Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Antispila petryi refound

Our two species of Antispila (small dark micros with silvery patches) feed on Dogwood. There are complications with taxonomy*, but even so it seemed strange that the species which Neil Horton found in 1980 and 1990 had not been seen since, whereas the other species had turned up three times (2002, 2003 & 2015).  Dr Horton's species, A. petryi, was on my list of 'lost' Monmouthshire Micros, which will sooner or later appear on the Blog, although the goalposts keep moving as 6 'lost' species have been refound already this year!

I don't usually bother to look at the ornamental Cornus alba, but I noticed a couple of mines on some 10-year-old bushes of this species at Dingestow, and they had the tell-tale holes that are made by Antispila larvae cutting out a portable case.  Checking with a hand-lens revealed no 'practice slits' at the start of the mine, which suggested A. petryi rather than A. metalella, and further searching produced a tenanted mine with the larva sporting sclerotized dark dots on its back that confirm the ID.  Antispila petryi is no longer 'lost' from VC35.


*Antispila metalella seems clear-cut, but A. petryi was synonymous with A. treitschkiella until early 2018 when the species were (re-)split, with A. petryi being a univoltine species that feeds on Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) and occasionally Cornus alba, and A. treitschkiella being a bivoltine species that feeds on Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas).  There may well be small trees of Cornus mas in the parks/gardens of Newport, so it would be worth somebody looking for A. treitschkiella there, but for the moment we have two species of Antispila in the county.

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