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Only a few micro-moths can be found in light-traps at this time of year (in fact large numbers of species of this group of families never come to light at all). This one was found by Iain Leach in his trap on the south coast near Newton Stewart. Not a moth he had seen before it turned out to be Semioscopsis avellanella and not only new to Kirkcudbrightshire (VC73) but to Dumfries and Galloway. There are records of this species from most of the Vice-counties to the north of D&G as well as scattered records for the rest of the UK so it is not particularly surprising to find in our region. However, it soon turned out that the moth had in fact been found before on the 19th April 2018 further up the Cree valley at Glentrool Village. Here Buzz Clark found his moth early in the morning sitting on a mossy log – making his the first record of this species! The record had been accidentally overlooked but had re-emerged through the photograph taken at the time.

This moth is a member of the family Depressariidae or ‘flat-bodies’ that is moths that fold their wings flat over their backs rather than in the more usual tent-like fashion. Although common names are not very often used for micro-moths this one has been called the Early Flat-body as it is out in March and April. It is also known to be on the wing very early in the morning both factors which probably account for why it has not been found before – not many micro-moth enthusiasts out and about at daybreak in March!

There is a similar species S. steinkellneriana which is on the wing in April and is known as the Dawn Flat-body – because of the habit of also flying early in the day. We have six records of this moth between 2006 and 2014, most of them from light-traps but at least one was beaten from scrub. There are fewer VCs in Scotland with this moth and it is absent from the far west. The caterpillar of this species is associated with blackthorn and hawthorn whereas S. avellanella’s caterpillar lives in a folded leaf of birch or hornbeam.

There are about twenty new micro-moth Vice-county records each year and always one or two new species for D&G. Some of these are species spreading north as a result of climate change but many have always been here but are simply hard to find until someone happened to be at the right place at the right time of year! Keep looking at it may well be that you are the next one to take the credit for ‘First record for…’

Early Flat-body Semioscopis Avellanella ©Iain Leach
Early Flat-body Semioscopis Avellanella ©Iain Leach
Early Flat-body Semioscopis avellanella ©Iain Leach
Early Flat-body Semioscopis Avellanella ©Iain Leach
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