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24 August 2014

24 August 2014 – Moth Koyaanisqatsi?

Horse-chestnut Leaf Miner (Cameraria ohridella)

The nights have been chilly over the last week and although traps have been set in the York Museum Gardens and at Shandy Hall we have seen only a very few of the usual suspects that are to be expected at this time of year.  The beautiful Centre-barred Sallow has been seen on two occasions in Coxwold along with Feathered Gothics, Flame Shoulders, Flounced Rustics, Square Spot Rustics, Large Yellow Underwings and Straw Dots.  A lone Poplar Hawk (freshly emerged from its pupa) added another to the significant total of that species this year. 

In the gardens in York, however, there is a sight to be seen.  There are two chestnut trees near the Marygate entrance, both magnificent mature specimens.  I’ve noticed a number of tiny moths flying around one of these trees – the one with brown and curling leaves.  (The other tree [a red chestnut] seems untroubled and untouched.)  On closer inspection it appears there is hardly a leaf that is unaffected by the mining of tiny caterpillars – the Horse-chestnut Leaf Miner (Cameraria ohridella). The caterpillars feed between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf. The adult moths seem to be most active at 7.am when I arrive at the gardens – the image above shows them in flight.  This moth was first recorded as a new species in Macedonia in 1985 and it arrived in England in 2002.  It seems it has no natural predators in this country…

A number of moths use the chestnut as a food source – Brown-tail, Yellow-tail, Common Emerald, Feathered Thorn, Engrailed and Satellite to name but a few. Now, attacked by the Leaf Miner, the chestnut tree suffers another onslaught. Can it support so many species?  Is this an indication of ‘life out of balance’?  

It’s warmer this evening – we’ll see if there is anything to be found in Coxwold. A return to the Museum Gardens on Thursday morning all being well.  

Horse-chestnut Leaf Miner