Saturday, 9 February 2019

13th-20th January

Chepstow Town

2nd Vice County record of Ectoedemia heringella.

Whilst browsing the internet moth sites I came across a leaf-mine sighting that intrigued me especially as it was only made just a few days ago.
As the moth season is rather quiet at the moment and I had time on my hands I felt I had to go and look into this. The first part of the puzzle was to find Holm Oak trees, a tree I had never heard of let alone seen.
Holm Oak leaves and acorns

Stigmella suberivora mine

They are evergreen so this was a good starting point. Racking my brains I remembered that there are several 'evergreens' about the town with one in the small bandstand park near the River Wye so maybe I had seen it inadvertently.
Strangely I remembered looking at this young tree often over the last few years but always thought it non-native to the UK and so did not warrant any investigation. Today the 13th January I looked over it and almost immediately picked up on what I thought were a couple of leaf mines.

 Stigmella suberivora mine close up

4 mines were located towards the leaf edge quite broad and slightly 'whitish'. These turned out to be a bonus as Sam Bosanquet agreed that they were Stigmella suberivora, another species that feeds on the Holm Oak tree. I was glad to have found this moth but it was not the one I had set out looking for however, one leaf had a small twisting mine that was central suggesting that Ectoedemia heringella was present also, in the town. Sam again confirmed the sighting stating it was only the 2nd Vice County record not long after a sighting made by Dave Slade as recently as 2018.

Ectoedemia heringella mines

Seven days later on the 20th my good lady and I had to pay a visit to the town. Parking in the Castle Dell car park I immediately spotted another evergreen tree in front of me, this one large, mature, with prominent standing, it was clear it had been there decades.
I shot across to it and soon discovered many mines dotted at regular intervals of both Stigmella suberivora and Ectoedemia heringella. I also found amongst these Phyllonorycter messianella which also occasionally mines the leaves of Holm Oak. Given the near proximity -about 300 yards- of this larger tree to the one in the park, it is most likely this is primary source for these leaf miners.    

   Ectoedemia heringella mines containing several pale larvae

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