I took delivery this morning of 'Micro-moth Field Tips' by Ben Smart and immediately had a flick through the book. For micro novices like myself, he has thoughtfully divided up the pages into monthly sections, so a peruse of January and February has already given me plenty of projects for the next few weeks. My attention was taken by a page devoted to Phyllonorycter leucographella, a micro that can be found in its larval state at this time of year on Firethorn (Pyracantha). Now, my neighbours have a splendid Pyracantha growing around, and over, their front door - why not nip out and take a look? The photographs in Ben's book had already alerted me as to what to look for - white, papery mines on the upper side of the leaf - so more in hope than expectation the short walk to next door's Firethorn was made. A quick check revealed a number of likely candidates.
Everything seemed to match up with what I had read. Even if the mine was untenanted, then at least I could record the presence of this species for the garden. However, my own self-imposed rules to be able to allow the species onto my list (going for the 1,000 remember) is to observe a living creature. I held the leaf up to the light, hand lens in hand, not really expecting that the first leaf on the very first attempt would reveal a larva burrowing away inside, but.... bloody hell, there it was, a dead ringer for the book's illustration (black abdominal markings all present and correct, pictured below), moving around before my eye. A few hurried images were then taken. It cannot always be as easy as this, can it?
874 Firethorn Leaf Miner (Phyllonorycter leucographella)
875 Phyllonorycter lantanella