Tuesday, 22 August 2017

12th August

New Micro for Vice County 35.

Cosmopterix pulchrimella

Another new micro for the vice county list was confirmed by Sam Bosanquet just recently.
The list of new micro's this year must make quite impressive reading.

George Tordoff informs me that it has been found in Wales but only on two other occasions to date.
Cosmopterix pulchrimella (New Marsh Cosmet) is a relatively newcomer to the British Isles being found in Dorset in 2001.

I got a heads-up from Sam around late June I believe it was, about looking for this moth on a strange plant I've never heard of called Pellitory-of-the-Wall.
I decided I would have a go, but finding the plant let alone a leaf mine was my biggest problem to start with but at least I had one clue from Sam that it was in Chepstow.

I found it after searching for hours the plant that is! That was one part of jigsaw.
The more I looked around the more I found it in cracks, crevices, on walls in quite a few mini sites, I was becoming familiar with what it looked like, at least.
No breakthrough though after extensive searching this time.

Then I stumbled upon another site purely by accident some distance from Chepstow after simply turning off the road to visit a church. The plant was there also. I spent hours going these plants over two visits to see if the moth had arrived there. Again, another blank despite searching plants in its preferred shaded areas with broader leaves. 
Another thorough check around the town of Chepstow over several hours and hundreds of plants again drew a blank. I was at the end of my searching, the point of giving up.

Sam concluded that perhaps the moth had not arrived here yet but to keep an eye out anyway.

Clump of Pellitory-of-the-Wall which may have been mowed on my previous visit

I kept looking but nothing showed.
Then whilst on a walk around the town on the 12th August I went into little visited area to have a look around for Prickly Lettuce and Small Ranunculus and low and behold a clump of Pellitory-of-the-Wall appeared in the line of sight under a fir tree. I went over to it and then almost immediately started to find mines under the shade of the tree. Excitement and relief poured over me, this was the holy grail surely. Indeed it was.
Several mines were found within three leaves, upon which 4 larvae were photographed from within the clump of plants.
Two larvae of Cosmopterix pulchrimella on one of the leaves

After all the hours and hundreds of plants checked it is very rewarding to have found it.
A bit luck and hard work was involved but it proves if you keep looking persistence may pay off.



  1. Well done Nick - reward for all the work put in. I`ve had all-too-brief (= laziness) searches for this moth on the abundant pellitory-of-the-wall in coastal Carmarthenshire, but I must emulate your efforts and try harder!

  2. This is brilliant - well done Nick. I have searched Pellitory in Chepstow and Monmouth a few times in the last 18 months without success. Your habitat is very different to where I was looking though - stony ground rather than walls.