A few weeks ago, when I walked his butterfly transect with my colleague Dave Slade of SEWBReC, the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, Dave stopped to inspect the seed heads of each mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) plant we passed. Of course, I had to ask why and he explained that he was looking for signs of the rarely recorded Mugwort Case-bearer moth, Coleophora artemisicolella. As the UK Moths website explains, ‘The larva forms a case very closely resembling a seedhead, and moves from seed to seed leaving diagnostic small holes in the side of each one.’ Though it flies during the months of July and August, the moth itself is seldom seen (I certainly haven’t spotted it) and has previously been considered quite rare. It may be, however, that it is actually just rarely recorded as who but moth fanciers would know to look for it!
I am not one to turn down a challenge and, after thoroughly checking every mugwort plant I found (not that many, to be honest) for the following three and a half weeks, I finally hit the jackpot at one of my local biodiversity hotspots, the Howardian Local Nature Reserve! These photos may not look exciting to you, but this is only the fifth recorded sighting of the Mugwort Case-bearer moth’s seed-head holes in the whole of Wales!