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Friday, 26 November 2021

`Plastic plant` yields an useful record...

 Yesterday (25/11) I visited some nearby old mixed woodland (Stradey Woods) with the intention of keeping an eye out for lesser spotted woodpeckers as I`d been recently looking at old diaries from the 1970s and early 1980s. I had been surprised at the frequency of my records of this scarce bird, though most of those sightings had been in the late March-early May period when they are more vocal - `drumming` or calling, so a late November visit was unlikely to be successful.

In the event, none were seen (or heard) but, passing some bird-sown shrubs of the alien Leycesteria formosa (`flowering nutmeg`) - a plant that I`ve always disliked as to my eyes it looks artificial (whatever that means!) - I thought that I`d check it for leaf mines. Recently I`d been noting various online records of the micro Phyllonorycter emberizaepenella mining this plant, which was something that I`d known for some time but the frequency of records made me reconsider looking myself. I`d also previously had that micro mining snowberry Symphoricarpus alba. I was more successful with the Phyllonorycter than I was with woodpeckers, quickly finding some mines, as well as some caused by dipterans.

It may actually be easier to find P. emberizaepenella on Leycesteria, giving how fast this plant is spreading, both in urban and rural locations - I`ll keep on looking. Yesterday`s plants were in semi- shade incidentally, in case this influences usage by P. emberizaepenella.

        Above: top photo shows the mines from below the leaf, the 2nd photo shows it from above. In P. emberizaepenenella the folding of the mine approximately follows the length of the leaf, whereas in P. trifasciella it causes folding across the width of the leaf.
Above: a dead pupa that was stuck at the edge of a mine. The black dots below are bits of frass stuck to its legs.
               Below: the dipteran mine, possibly Chromatomyia aprilinia.


                                        Above: a photo of Leycesteria (from another site).

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