Scarce micro moth

When I first saw this tiny moth it was flying in our bathroom [08.09.2016] and I suspected it was a ‘clothes moth’ that had found its way indoors from the birdbox just outside the open window! It then settled and I was about to swat it when I saw straight away it was the wrong shape and a dark purplish brown colour with yellow markings. I therefore captured it in a plastic pot to take a closer look.

Although I’m not so familiar with the micro-moths as the larger moths, I knew this was something I’d never seen before. Checking in the book ‘Field Guide to Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland’ there was only one species it could be – Metalampra italica. The illustration below is from the book, where it is described as “Very local. First found in Britain in 2003, otherwise only known from Italy” – hence the species name. The larva lives “under the bark of dead trees and shrubs; in a slight web”.

I then looked in Colin Pratt’s volume 4 of ‘A Complete History of the Butterflies and Moths of Sussex’ and on page 103 he also says italica is scarce (in Sussex), and originally believed to have come into the UK via the horticultural trade (to Devon in 2003). It first appeared in Surrey in 2007, in both east Kent and W Sussex in 2011, and in west Kent and E Sussex in 2012, and is probably now resident here. The map and text below (click to enlarge) is from Colin’s book and shows all Sussex records up to the end of 2014. Clearly the last sentence in the text is now well out of date!

I submitted the record with two photos via ‘iRecord’ and I am pleased to say Colin Pratt the official recorder for all Lepidoptera in Sussex has now verified my record. I suspect we will be seeing more and more of this late summer species now that it has a foothold here in the UK.

Ralph

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    WESTFIELD WILDLIFE has been created for Westfield residents and visitors to submit news and photos of any wildlife observed in the Parish. We also aim to post our own sightings and topical wildlife news as often as time allows.

    WESTFIELD PARISH lies just to the north of the coastal town of HASTINGS in E. Sussex (south east UK), and a MAP of the area covered by the Parish is here http://www.westfieldvillage.co.uk/maps

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