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28 June 2013

28 June 2013 – Making Mobile Homes.

For a rather large genus of moths, we have only recently found members of the Coleophora genus here in the gardens. The name is derived from koleos ‘a sheath’ and phoreo ‘to carry.’ This is because members of the genus as larvae create portable cases that they hide and protect themselves in, kind of like a do-it-yourself mobile trailer home! They will attach to a leaf, seed, or other plant-based material, depending on their preferences, and then burrow into the plant to feed. The resulting micro-moths tend to have distinct forward-pointing antennae that are level with flattened elongated bodies.

Coleophora albicosta

Coleophora albicosta

 is a micro-moth that usually flies during the day, which some people might find unusual considering the common conception of moths being nocturnal – but yes, some of them do fly in daylight! However, C. albicosta does also sometimes fly at night, which is probably how we caught it. Albus ‘white’ and costa ‘a rib’ describe the definitive white streak on the wing. This makes 267 on the species list!

Coleophora sp.

C. albicosta

wasn’t the only member of the genus we’ve seen. Patrick found its friend on top of a gasoline tank that he had left out temporarily on the back porch. I haven’t been able to clearly identify it other than as a member of the genus, though if anyone has an idea as to what it might be, do tweet us @LSterneTrust or send us an email at shandyhall@dial.pipex.com. We’d love to hear from you!

– Post by Jane Wu