Five species New to Ireland all within a few miles of Belfast City Centre!

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May 242020
 

This just proves that you do not have to always travel far to find things of interest, sometimes they are just on your doorstep…. It is worth noting that the four leaf-mining species addressed here are all found on non-native host species although lime (Tilia spp.) are long established. Increased movement of plant species around Europe and from further afield will continue to inadvertently introduce species to new areas where they may become permanently established.
The first three records have been published in the annual Microlepidoptera report in The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation as well as being included in an update paper on Irish Microlepidoptera by Ken Bond in the same journal . The latter two records are yet to be published.

14.009 Bucculatrix thoracella
18th August 2013: This is the one that really started me looking at leaf mines. After checking my actinic trap in the garden I was walking back along the garden path. As usual it was an appalling catch but then the sunlight illuminated what appeared to be a small leaf mine on a lime (Tilia sp.) leaf. Closer examination revealed a number of tiny gallery mines and small patches of feeding damage. A check on the usual websites strongly suggested they were mines of B. thoracella. I then checked the Moths Ireland on-line maps to find there were no records of this species. I emailed the scanned images to Dave Grundy, Ben Smart and John Langmaid who all confirmed my identification. In Britain the species appears to have more southerly distribution reaching as far north as Cumbria. In Ireland the species has subsequently been found in Dublin and Cork and must have been over-looked.

15.066 Phyllonorycter strigulatella
9th November 2016: This was a species I had been looking for without success but whilst walking down the Lisburn road in Belfast, heading for the bank, I noticed three or four grey alders in Drumglass Park. I immediately found a number of the typically long, tightly rolled tent mines positioned between leaf veins. There were multiple small creases on the “tent”. The occupied mines contained bright yellowish larvae with a distinctive pattern on dorsal surface of the head. This species doesn’t feed on other alder species in Britain. Identification was quickly confirmed by John Langmaid. It is known from various isolated sites from north-west England and south-east Scotland, south through Wales to East Anglia and southern England.

11.007 Bankesia conspurcatella
10th March 2018: Myself and my wife, Avril, were over my step-daughter’s house on the Belmont Road, Belfast. As we were leaving Avril noticed a small moth on the hallway wall. I duly caught it and brought it home. I don’t spend much time looking at adult micros but I expected this to be a cork moth Nemapogon cloacella. This quickly proved incorrect. I took images and posted on a closed site where after some head scratching Ben Smart suggested it was Bankesia. This proved correct, it was a totally unexpected discovery as this species is very uncommon with a very patchy distribution in Britain having only been rediscovered in Kent in 1984 after years of having “gone missing”. It is one of the Psychids or “bagworms”. The larvae of these species live in cases constructed of detritus, algae or lichens, the adults of some species are wingless and some are parthenogenetic. I decided that the larvae would not be far away and on 2nd April I discovered a colony of c. 45 cases on my step-daughter’s garden fence! This remains the only known site in Ireland! The adult specimen was set by Ken Bond and now resides in the National Museum in Dublin.

15.050 Phyllonorycter cerasicolella
9th October 2018: Two days previous Andy Banthorpe had posted images of the mines of this species from North Wales. This prompted me to think as to where I might find the host plant, Prunus cerasus, in Northern Ireland. The answer came quickly enough… B & Q at the Belfast Harbour Exchange. Three shrubs and two tent mines! The mines lie typically between leaf veins, long and contracting the leaf into a tube. These were confirmed by Andy and John Langmaid. In Britain it is largely restricted to the area south of a line from the Mersey to the Humber.

15.051 Phyllonorycter lantanella
17th April 2019: I had been searching unsuccessfully for this species for a while after posts by Patrick Clement and others on the excellent Micro-moth Field Tips Facebook site. It is found on various species of Viburnum, various species of which are frequently used for structural planting in parks, gardens and around shopping complexes! My luck changed whilst walking down the Lisburn Road when Andy Crory rang me on the mobile. Because of the traffic noise I diverted into Drumglass Park. Whilst continuing my conversation I wandered towards a patch of Viburnum tinus where to my surprise was a Phyllonorycter mine of what I presumed would be P. lantanella. Once home I examined and photographed the mines and quickly received confirmation. The following day I rechecked the garden Viburnum and found more mines which I had obviously overlooked. Attempts at breeding through proved fruitless but did produce a number of tiny parasitic wasps. In Britain it is largely confined to South Wales and Central and Southern England. .

Dave Allen
Belfast, August 2019