Saturday, 14 December 2019

Stigmella aceris

Peter Hall has just started work on some of my dissections for 2019 and of interest already are three adult nepticulids recorded in the garden here during February.  They proved to be one male, confirmed as Stigmella aceris, and two indeterminate females (nepticulid females often can't be identified safely even by dissection) although one of the pair could well have been aceris as well.  Looking at my photos all three were most likely the same species, with black head, greyish collar, white eye-caps, golden brown fore-wing, silver fascia and purplish apical area.  My camera struggles with moths this small (wing length less than 2mm) but this is the male from 16th February:   

Stigmella aceris, Westcott 16th February

According to MoGBI Stigmella aceris is supposed to have two broods per year, the first in May and the second in August, so these appearances were very early and suggest that it might actually be continuously brooded when the weather is suitable (although on what they would lay eggs in February or March is open to debate!).  It is certainly a moth on the move now.  It didn't seem to progress beyond Kent until the late-1990s but has now spread northwards quite rapidly, arriving in Bucks by 2006 when an adult was found in the RIS trap at Burnham Beeches.  My first garden record as a mine was in 2016 but this year our solitary Norway Maple was infested with it, more than 30 mines being noted in just a few minutes on its accessible lower leaves on 11th August.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

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