Friday, 11 May 2012

Taleporia tubulosa

This is the other common Psychid (together with Psyche casta and Luffia ferchaultella) which can be found in most woods. The case is totally distinctive, being about 1.5cm long and very narrow, with no grass stems or other attachments to the case. If you look at the tip of the case, you'll see that it is tri-valved.

Psychids do come to light but only very infrequently in comparison to their abundance in the larval stage so they are well worth recording now.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Psyche casta

This is another common species that most people should be able to find. The larval cases are covered in sections of dead grass and are unmistakeable. I say that but it isn't strictly true! There is another species called Psyche crassiorella which makes an identical case (although it is supposed to be slightly larger). However, casta is very common and crassiorella hasn't been recorded in the UK for at least 30 years so you are pretty safe recording cases as casta. If you really want to be sure, you will need to breed the adult and count its antennal segments (although there is a lot of overlap in the number of segments) or dissect.

Psyche casta cases can be found in a wide variety of situations, from tree trunks to fence posts, road signs and wheelie bins!

The blog has now passed 1000 page views since it started in early January. Considering the time of year and the awful weather, I'm really pleased with the level of interest. Many thanks for your support.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

One for everybody - Coleophora serratella

A lot of the things I've posted recently have been quite local, or at least habitat restricted. This has not been through design, they just happen to be the things I've bumped into. Todays species in contrast, is something that everyone should be able to find.

Coleophora serratella feeds on a range of deciduous trees but is particularly common on birch. Like almost all the species in this genus, the larva inhabits a case from which it makes blotch mines with an entrance hole on the underside of the leaf.

The larva mines as far as it can reach whilst keeping it's 'tail' within the case and then it moves to make a fresh mine, either on the same leaf as shown above or on another leaf nearby. 

C. serratella makes two different cases; one in which it overwinters and feeds briefly in the spring, and then a larger case in which it completes its development.

The picture above shows the overwintering case that has been afixed to the base of the leaf. Next to the case is an excised piece of leaf that has been used to make the new case. The spring case is shown below.

Larval feeding signs alone cannot be used to record this species as there are other Colephora species which feed on birch (and other trees). If the case is not on one of the leaves where the feeding signs are, looking at adjacent twigs as it may be fixed to them for pupation.