10 28/10/2010

Moth larvae spotted for first time in 100 years

Experts have come across moth larvae in Cheshire for the first time in more than 100 years.

Moth expert, Steve Hind, discovered the larvae belonging to a species called Stigmella viscerella on the leaf of an English Elm tree growing at the edge of the 110 acre Chester Zoo site. The last time this was recorded in the county was in 1887.

Roger Wilkinson, Head of Field Conservation & Research at Chester Zoo, commented: “This an exciting find for us and even more so for the fact that Steve found it while he was on site helping us with our Native Species conservation work.

“The gap between the last recording and this one is very long but this could be because of the lack of knowledge in terms of recording wildlife.  They may be more common than we think but if people don’t know what they are looking for, they can easily overlook key findings like this.”

Chester Zoo’s Native Species conservation programme carries out moth trapping in order to establish recordings of moth species.

Steve Hind, County micro moth recorder, said: “The larvae which live inside the blade of a leaf belong to a group of insects called leafminers. They spend only a few days inside the leaf before dropping to the ground to pupate. This is an exciting find, particularly because it’s been a long time since the last recorded sighting.”

Record is the local biological records centre for the Cheshire region. It covers Cheshire, Halton, Warrington and Wirral, as well as parts of Greater Manchester that were traditionally in Cheshire. The Record database holds recorded sightings of all kinds of wildlife, from garden birds to rare orchids and even rarer beetles.

To find out more about wildlife recording, please visit www.record-lrc.co.uk/ or www.chesterzoo.org