I recently posted a link to an article about the leaf mines of the micro-moth Stigmella aurella.

Well guess who I found when I went out to photograph the leaf mines on our bramble plant in the front yard!

Stigmella aurella, adult and vacated leaf mine, 15 Feb 2012

Well look who it is, the literate leafminer all grown up!

Yes, it was Stigmella aurella in the flesh!  The first live, wild, adult moth I’ve seen this year.

You can see the leaf mines scribbled all over the leaf behind him – in the foreground, a bit blurred, is the end of a leaf mine where a fully grown larva would be.  I shone a torch through the leaves but didn’t see any caterpillar-shaped shadows, so they were old, vacated leafmines.

The adult looked pretty fresh – probably just emerged from one of those mines.  I really should check them more thoroughly, but I have to stand in the street to look at them and I don’t really want to draw unwanted attention from the neighbours!

I did notice those mines a while ago but assumed it would be too difficult to identify them.  However, they seem to be quite distinctive.  Incidentally, I took some photos of the same species yesterday at the harbour, but didn’t want to detract from the Iceland Gull in my post!

Why doesn’t this moth have an English name?  Well, it does, but there seems to be a bit of disagreement in the mothing community about naming micros.  Some micros already have well-established names, but in recent times attempt/s have been made to name all the rest.  So to a few recorders this is the Golden Pigmy, but more universally, Stigmella aurella.

I think this might be an early record for this moth.  There aren’t any NI records on the National Biological Network Gateway, and only one or two on the Irish NBDC.  This is mainly due to underrecording (seriously, how many people in NI record micros) and possibly problems with CEDaR, our regional database.

life list:  137