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It’s often the way that, while looking for one thing, I find another. In this case, I was checking for eggs or larvae on the newly opening buds and flowers of an Oak tree where I’ve previously seen Purple hairstreak butterflies. No luck with those but I did find this …

230501 Coleophora lutipennella (1)

It’s the larva of the Common oak case-bearer moth (Coleophora lutipennella) – you can see the pretty little adult moth on the UK Moths website here. These case-bearing moths remind me a bit of snails, spending their larval stage in a home they carry around with them, though the moths don’t grow their own – they weave theirs from bits of vegetation and silk. In the photo below, you can see the larva poking its head out from the bottom of its case.

230501 Coleophora lutipennella (2)

It can be difficult to distinguish between the larvae of two very similar case-bearing moths, this one and Coleophora flavipennella. I had my find confirmed by expert Rob Edmunds, who manages the British Leafminers website. The difference between the two cases is minor but fascinating, the presence or not of a small hump of leaf tissue built in to the case – there’s an explanation and some excellent photos on the website’s June 2004 newsletter.