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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Two unusual mines

I do most of my mine recording in autumn, focussed on Stigmella and Phyllonorycter, and haven't really bothered with spring Eriocrania mines on birch before.  This is a difficult genus to identify as adults, but the larvae each have distinctive characters so identifying tenanted mines is reasonably accurate.  So far I had seen three species this year: unimaculella (new for Carms) at Cnwc y Llwyn, sangii (dark grey larvae) in the Eastern Cleddau Valley, and semipurpurella at Mynydd Mawr.  Yesterday I looked at the E unimaculella colony in our wood, where the mines are large and the larvae have left, and noticed several much smaller mines which are still tenanted.  These have a long section of linear frass at the start and pale-headed larvae, which couples with their rather late season to indicate E salopiella.

Eriocrania salopiella (left) and E unimaculella (right),
the unimaculella were identified 2 weeks ago when tenanted

A couple of days ago George emailed me a photo of the mines of Incurvaria pectinea in a Hazel leaf from Monmouthshire.  I had this species in the back of my mind as we walked up along the edge of our field, with Bea hiding among the hazels of the grown-out boundary hedge and trying to jump out at me.  To my surprise I noticed one Hazel leaf with 5 roundish, tenanted mines on it.  They do appear to be early instar I. pectinea larvae rather than any species of beetle/sawfly illustrated on the Leafmines website.  If so, this is a new moth for Carmarthenshire.


  1. The larvae (dark head and midline) look just like those I saw in VC35 last week, and those leaves also had cut-outs (used to make the portable case in which they feed on the ground after the mining phase) which confirmed them as Incurvaria.

    I also noticed pectinea mines on hazel at Castell Coch on my day off yesterday. I guess it's reasonably safe to record them as this species rather than any other Incurvaria if on Hazel. I masculella has been recorded on Hazel in mainland Europe but not in the UK as far as I know. I'm not quite sure what I oehlmanniella feeds on - books say Bilberry but I've seen adults in limestone districts with none of this plant.

    Like you I've never done much with spring mines - I must try and do better with the birch-feeding Eriocranias!

  2. I like these informative posts of yours, Sam - please keep it up as it helps us all improve our `moth knowledge`. I`ll be doing a catch-up post (or posts) on Monday (when it`s supposed to be wet!). I had Argyresthia trifasciata - beaten off cypress - this afternoon; a certain record (have just checked the specimen). It`s not the other cupress job (cupresella).

  3. That's the first VC44 record of Argyresthia trifasciata. By coincidence, Nick Felstead had it new to VC35 this week as well.

  4. Thanks Sam. I`ve been looking for this moth for several seasons as I am confident that I had it back in 2006 - though I certainly cannot claim that earlier record, without specimen or photo. I was n`t bothering with micros back then, but clearly recall a little three-striped job that I beat (with Blair`s shoulder-knot caterpillars) from my garden Lawson cypress (not leylandii). The tree was cut down in early 2007.

  5. PS - I`ll post a photo of it on the blog on Monday.