British leafminers, leafmines, leafmines on Gorse, leafmining moth larvae, moth larva, Phyllonorycter ulicicolella
I have a new leafminer to share at last, the moth Phyllonorycter ulicicolella, which mines the stems and spines of Gorse plants. The British Leafminers website notes that this mine is rarely found, and I can certainly believe that. I’d had a look before at a few Gorse bushes but not found any mines, until a posting on Twitter by local Butterfly Conservation senior moth ecologist George led me to make a more serious effort. For me, finding new leafmines is often a matter of getting my eye in – once I’ve seen something, I find it much easier to find again. George directed me to a local Gorse bush where he’d recently found some mines – I didn’t actually check that bush but knew there were other bushes that had recently been flailed further along the same road, and bingo! The mine and larva pictured here came from a cut branch lying on the ground.
The larva is incredibly tiny – about 3mm when fully grown – so it was difficult to get clear photos. According to the UK Moths website, where you can see images of the attractive adult, this moth is ‘nationally scarce’, and can be ‘found in heathland and grassland in southern England and also northwest England’. I guess they need to update that now to include south Wales, thanks to George’s efforts in finding it locally, in various parts of Cardiff and the nearby town of Barry. I will also be continuing my search for the mines in my area.
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