Psychidae moths in Nottinghamshire
     
Though often very small, difficult to find and considerably under-recorded throughout the UK, Psychidae moths make interesting study. Relatively little is known about their range across Nottinghamshire, this page detailing all the county's known species and their current status and making comparisons with the species occurring in the neighbouring counties of Leicestershire and Derbyshire. This page has recently been updated to include the latest information, including the recent discovery of Dahlica triquetrella at Attenborough NR in March 2012.
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An introduction to Psychidae moths

The Psychidae certainly represent some of the strangest UK moths and are sometimes more commonly known as "Bagworms". Male Psychids are fully winged, but many species have grub-like, wingless females, that bear little resemblance to a moth at all. Some species are parthenogenetic, in which only the self-fertile female is known.

The last few years has seen a considerable increase in interest in Psychidae among UK lepidopterists, and searching for the often well camoflauged larval cases during the Winter months, now regularly fills the gap between Autumn and Spring MV moth trapping seasons.

 
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The term Bagworm is derived from the case which the larva constructs around itself as it grows. The case is based on a silk tube, to which the larva attaches various items of plant, lichens, algae, sand, insects and debris. Although many Psychidae larvae construct cases that are readily identifiable through combinations of shape, size and material used, this cannot always be guaranteed with 100% certainty between species that constructing similar cases.
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Lepidopterists found that correct identification of the three Dahlicas, can come from the discarded pupal headplate after hatching. Examination under a microscope is then quite easy to determine species.

The pupal headplates of D. lichenella and D. inconspicuella are shown on the right. The photographs are greatly enlarged and not to scale. Differences in the length of antennae between species are not always obvious, with much depending on how they are viewed. The antennae of both D. lichenella and D.triquetrella are obviously longer than those of D. inconspicuella.

The larvae of many species feed on algae or lichen growing on tree trunks, walls and stones etc. Cases may be found by searching the crevices of Oaks and other trees, but the smooth bark of Beech cases to stand out more easily when searched for.

 
 
Dahlica lichenella   Dahlica inconspicuella
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Recent changes and confusion within Psychidae nomenclature

There are several UK Psychidae (some featured on this page) currently named differently by European entomologists. In order to lessen confusion, we have now reverted to using European names for all species featured.

In Britain two Luffia species were thought to occur, the parthenogenetic Luffia ferchaultella, with self-fertile wingless females, widespread in the southern part of Britain, and the bisexual Luffia lapidella, with winged males and wingless females, in Britain occurring only in Cornwall. Larvae and cases of these species are identical. In recent DNA tests the two species could not be separated, so technically they are two forms of one species, the bisexual form being Luffia lapidella f. lapidella and the parthenogenetic form being Luffia lapidella f. ferchaultella. Other name changes currently in use include Diplodoma herminata - now D. laichartingella, Narycia monilifera - now N. duplicella and Bacotia sepium now B. claustrella.

A brief history of Psychidae in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire

The late Ken Cooper's 1993 listing for the county showed just five species recorded from Nottinghamshire. The status of all in Nottinghamshire is presumed by the county recorder as being common, but there currently seems little interest and possibly a great deal of under-recording of micro lepidoptera by the county's lepidopterists, which helps to account for this. Prior to the onset of our surveying Nottinghamshire Psychidae, there was just one known record of D. laichartingella (at Carlton on August 5th 1988. M. Sterling) showing just how under-recorded these moths have been.

Note:- The table below shows the relevant county Psychidae lists at the end of December 2014. .. * denotes records are considered doubtful

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Nottinghamshire Psychidae   Leicestershire Psychidae   Derbyshire Psychidae
         
11.001 (B&F 0180) Diplodoma laichartingella   11.001 (B&F 0180) Diplodoma laichartingella   11.001 (B&F 0180) Diplodoma laichartingella
11.002 (B&F 0175) Narycia duplicella   11.002 (B&F 0175) Narycia duplicella   11.002 (B&F 0175) Narycia duplicella
11.003 (B&F 0176) Dahlica triquetrella   11.003 (B&F 0176) Dahlica triquetrella   11.003 (B&F 0176) Dahlica triquetrella
11.004 (B&F 0177) Dahlica inconspicuella       11.004 (B&F 0177) Dahlica inconspicuella
11.005 (B&F 0179) Dahlica lichenella   11.005 (B&F 0179) Dahlica lichenella    
11.006 (B&F 0181) Taleporia tubulosa   11.006 (B&F 0181) Taleporia tubulosa   11.006 (B&F 0181) Taleporia tubulosa
         
         
11.009 (B&F 0185) Luffia ferchaultella   11.009 (B&F 0185) Luffia ferchaultella    
         
         
11.012 (B&F 0186) Psyche casta   11.012 (B&F 0186) Psyche casta   11.012 (B&F 0186) Psyche casta
         
        11.014 (B&F 0189) Epichnopterix plumella *
         
        11.016 (B&F 0191) Acanthopsyche atra *
The first numbers preceding each species are the new numbering system and order of species, as used in the new Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles (D. Agassiz, S. Beavan, R. Heckford. 2013). The old Bradley and Fletcher numbers (B&F) are still provided.
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At the start of 2006, Derbyshire and Leicestershire figured much better for Psychidae species than Notts, but this has changed in recent years. The three counties all listed N. duplicella, T. tubulosa, D. laichartingella and P. casta, but Leicestershire is still waiting to record the commonest of the British Dahlica's (D. inconspicuella) Many of Leicestershire's records have come from Swithland Reservoir - a site that has good numbers of L. lapidella f.ferchaultella, but has recently produced first county records of D. triquetrella, D. lichenella (both in 2005) and N. duplicella (2004)

Derbyshire's records date back earlier, but there seem to be fewer follow-ups after first county records. Derbyshire Psychidae are represented by N. duplicella (Chatsworth 1981) D. inconspicuella (Dovedale 1974, Beeley Moor 1986 and MiddletonTop 1987) D. laichartingella (Wirksworth c1892) T. tubulosa (Caulke Est 1980s and Clough Wood 1980's) Of the Derbyshire list, there are two species whose records are currently considered doubtful - these being E. plumella (Repton Shrubs 1920' s) and A. atra. N. duplicella is without doubt grossly under-recorded in Derbyshire and systematic searching will probably reveal a status similar to that we have found in Nottinghamshire.

P. casta is assumed to be generally quite common throughout all three counties.

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      Nottinghamshire Survey Work

Dilys and myself decided to search actively for Psychidae at the end of February 2006. Our aim being to map the occurring species and their distribution within the county as is practically possible. By the end of 2014, a total of 80 sites within Nottinghamshire had been surveyed, but there is still ample room for further coverage, especially in south Nottinghamshire.

The current status and distribution of Psychidae Moths in Nottinghamshire

First pulished back in 2008, the latest version of our survey results can be downloaded as a pdf file, by clicking the report image on the left. It includes the most current Nottinghamshire distribution maps for each species, plus some additonal photographs which are not featured here.

Published January 2015

         
         
Psychidae photographs
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11.001 ... B&F 0180 Diplodoma laichartingella (Goeze, 1783)
 
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Mature Diplodoma laichartingella cases are distinctive, containing a variety of insect fragments including shed spider and centipede skins and beetle elytra etc, but particles of sand and small items of detritus are also included. Sometimes, cases can be extreme, a good example being shown above. This species has a two year larval period and the mature case measures anything up to 11.5mm.

During the Winter months, cases can be found tucked well into the characteristic hollows around the roots of mature Beech trees, the larvae becoming active from late March and early April, moving back up the tree trunks to begin feeding. Our observations currently suggest that D.laichartingella is confined to the Sherwood Forest area. Both sexes are fully winged.

     
11.002 ... B&F 0175 Narycia duplicella (Goeze, 1783)
 
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Measuring around 6mm when full grown, Narycia duplicella larval cases are quite distinctive, being covered in particles of lichen and usually having some form of 'fin like' projection towards the rear upper surface and either side of the case. Larvae become active from late February and early March depending on average daily temperature. Sometimes commonly found near the base of tree trunks, Narycia duplicella has been found to be one of the commonest Psychids in Nottinghamshire, occurring on tree trunks and walls in a variety of situations. Both sexes are fully winged.
     
11.003 ... B&F 0176 Dahlica triquetrella (Hübner, 1813)
 
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A much rarer species in Nottinghamshire, than both Dahlica lichenella and Dahlica inconspicuella. The latest addition to the Nottinghamshire Psychidae list, cases of Dahlica triquetrella were found on the Nottinghamshire side of the flood wall at Attenborough NR (Rogers, R. and Clough, J) and on the Derbyshire side (Nurcome, E.) in March 2012. On October 31st 2015, larval cases were found at Newark Railway Station car park (Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.) and the resulting female in the above two photographs emerged on March 31st 2016.

Although the larvae of all three Dahlicas produce very similar cases, those of Dahlica triquetrella are slightly larger (6mm-10mm) and covered with various insect fragments at the front end. If anything, Dahlica triquetrella cases are more similar to those of Diplodoma laichartingella, but less obviously triangular in cross section.

     
11.004 ... B&F 0177 Dahlica inconspicuella .. Lesser Lichen Case-bearer (Stainton, 1849)
 
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Fairly common at Sherwood Forest, most especially around the Country Park area, but still a difficult species to find. Larvae are active from late February onwards and can be found ascending the trunks of trees, but will also be found on logs. In our experience, the larval cases of Dahlica inconspicuella (length around 6mm) are less likely to be covered in lichen than Narycia duplicella, but is generally covered in particles of sand and soil etc and look 'fresher' than most other species. Pupation sites are often in the more sheltered locations on tree trunks or on fallen logs or branches. The females of this species are wingless, but the males are attracted to MV light traps operated early in the year.
     
11.005 ... B&F 0179 Dahlica lichenella .. Lichen Case-bearer (Linnaeus, 1761)
 
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An uncommon moth, with case lengths between 6-7mm. Larval cases are like Dahlica inconspicuella, being largely covered in particles of sand and soil and seem slightly larger and bulkier. Old cases will be covered in lichens or algae due to age. Numerous cases found on the wall at Market Warsop Cemetery were the first record for Nottinghamshire. The self fertile, flightless females emerge, lay eggs and die within about eight hours. Identification can be confirmed via examination of the pupal head case, which is often still attached to the pupa, sometimes weeks after the female has emerged.
     
11.006 ... B&F 0181 Taleporia tubulosa (Retzius, 1783)
 
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Empty cases are around 15mm in length, cigar shaped, with some insect fragments around the head end of the case and easy to find on the trunks of trees. Smooth barked trees such as Beech are particularly favoured, especially where there is limited ground-cover. Fence posts are also utilised by the pupating larvae on Budby Common, where the species seems to be quite localised. All cases found during the Winter months are from the previous year. Active larvae remain on the ground until the Spring, then climbing trunks to pupate in suitable sites (second week of May in 2006). T. tubulosa is often abundant where it occurs and only the male is fully winged.
     
11.009 ... B&F 0184 Luffia ferchaultella (Stephens, 1850)
 
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This is probably a common species in parts of Nottinghamshire and more detailed information regarding the present nomenclature regarding the possible two forms of this moth was mentioned earlier. At many sites across the southern half of the UK, the distinctively curved larval cases this moth, are often found in urban areas than most other Psychidae. European entomologists have suggested that Luffia lapidella f.ferchaultella perhaps prefers a more polluted habitat.

We have so far recorded it on the trunks of trees from Nottingham City Hospital, the Mapperley area of Nottingham, Clipstone near Mansfield (all urbanised areas) before finding it most recently on several trees in the car park of the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre at Edwinstowe. Where it occurs, it can often be found in numbers, as old cases remain on trees for several years. In early Spring, active larval cases measure just 2.5mm in length and the larvae become active from early March in favourable weather conditions. Older cases (around 6mm in length) are often conspicuously banded with different particles of lichen and algae.

     
11.012 ... B&F 0186 Psyche casta (Pallas, 1767)
 
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Psyche casta is one of the easiest cases to find and is common in the Sherwood Forest area. Only the male is fully winged. There are currently only two Eakring records. With a case length of between 8-12mm, it is distinctive enough to be spotted and identified with confidence. Cases can regularly be found on low-growing plants such as Bramble, coarse Grasses and tree trunks during the late Spring and Summer months.
     
Status of Nottinghamshire Psychidae - February 2013
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  • Narycia duplicella has been found at most sites surveyed (including some urban sites) Although the Sherwood Forest area is undoubtedly Narycia duplicella's stronghold, it is without doubt fairly widespread across the county.
  • Dahlica triquetrella was recorded for the first time in Nottinghamshire in March 2012, when discovered at Attenborough NR by Richard Rogers. Further occupied cases were later found by Jerry Clough.
  • Dahlica inconspicuella was only found at Lound Wood (Eakring) and at Clipstone Old Quarter and Budby South Forest in the Sherwood Forest NNR. It proved quite a difficult species to find, but males have been taken at MV light within the confines of Sherwood Forest CP.
  • Dahlica lichenella was recorded from just two sites during 2006. Found on trees at Hanger Hill Plantation and on the wall at the entrance to Market Wasop Cemetary, but this population may now have died out (March 2011).
  • Diplodoma laichartingella was eventually recorded from several sites within Sherwood Forest, including Duncan Wood, Boughton Brake, Holborn Hill Plantation, Budby Common, Bradmer Hill, Gibraltar Plantation and Sherwood Forest CP. Diplodoma laichartingella was difficult to find during the Winter months, but searching hollows formed around the roots of Beech trees proved very successful.
  • Taleporia tubulosa was recorded from the following sites; Budby Common, Burstheart Hill, Hundred Acre Wood, Cuckney Hay Wood, Holborn Hill Plantation, Hanger Hill Plantation, Clipstone Old Quarter, Sherwood Forest CP and Gibraltar Plantation around the Sherwood Forest area and at Lound Wood (Eakring) The favoured habitat was Beech woodland where there was little under-storey vegetation. Old cases could be found throughout the Winter months but large numbers of habited cases were found climbing Beech trunks during the second week of May.
  • Luffia lapidella f.ferchaultella was recorded on the trunks of mature trees in the grounds of Nottingham City Hospital during July and on roadside Lime trees in the Mapperley area of Nottingham. Large numbers were found in early 2007 on roadside trees at Clipstone near Mansfield. Larval cases found on trees in the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre car park in early March 2011.
  • Psyche casta is common and recorded from most sites surveyed during the year. Cases were easy to find on posts, tree trunks and low vegetation, but were also found fairly high off the ground on Sallows on Warsop Main Pit Top.
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Thanks to the following contributors

Mark Skevington for the Leicestershire information, Dr Sheila Wright (Nottinghamshire county macro-moth recorder) and Dave Budworth for the Derbyshire records. A special thanks to Henk ten Holt for his invaluable ID help, suggestions/corrections and assistance in writing the Psychidae nomenclature section of this page.

 
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