Invertebrate news 2021
Insect and Arachnid related news from around Nottinghamshire
Want your interesting or notable Nottinghamshire sightings listed? email tpendleton@eakringbirds.com
 

A surprising new site for the moths Dahlica triquetrella and Luffia ferchaultella

A recent visit to the former gravel workings at Gunthorpe proved fruitless for lepidoptera, until walking back to the car park outside the Unicorn Hotel, I noticed a larval case and pupal exuvia which was  immediately identifiable as being Dahlica triquetrella.

And while taking photographs to both document the record and act as a reminder (I still photograph almost everything by habit) I noticed the familiar curved larval case of Luffia ferchaultella
. So two Psychidae moths on one roadside post and there were cases on other posts too. All this came after I had deliberately looked on Gunthorpe Bridge for
L. ferchautella only a few minutes before.

This record and others of both species in recent years, have showed that any building, fence line or wall in the vicinity of the River Trent is worth checking for either species. Both are equally as likely.
 
 
Two more potential new moths for Nottinghamshire from 2020 

Earlier in 2021, Tom Shields sent his moth records from 2020. Normally, these would be filed away till the end of the year and the next round of distribution map updates. But with a little spare time, I went through Tom's spreadsheet and there are two micros on it, that appear to be new to Nottinghamshire.

The first of these was Gelechia senticentella
, which went on to be recorded at Tom's Colwick garden on a number of occasions with a series of records between July 13th and August 12th. G. senticentella first appeared in the UK in 1988 and has spread northwards since, benefitting from the regular planting of Cypress (Chaemocyparis and Cupressus) and Juniper (Juniperus) in gardens. Tom's second new species was Nemapogon koenigi, which was trapped at Centre Parcs on July 31st. Both species should certainly be looked for this coming Summer.
 
  Trachelipus rathkii - another new Woodlouse for VC56

Possibly the last of the large UK woodlice we could have expected in Nottinghamshire, has been found at Stoke Bardolph. Trachelipus rathkii (Brandt, 1833) could easily be mistaken for the variable Porcellio scaber and experience with woodlice is probably key to recognising it as being something a bit different.

Always found near to water Trachelipus rathkii occurs under stones, peices of wood and other long standing flood debris. Nottinghamshire's first, were found at Stoke Bardolph, initially under the loose bark of some felled trees in a now disused car park near Burton Joyce, but then more turned up under an old rabbit hutch door and under stones on the bank of the River Trent.

The whole area had recently been under water, following the Trent bursting its banks earlier in the year. Its expected to be elsewhere locally along southern reaches of the Trent in Nottinghamshire, so check under logs or stones which are prone to flooding.
 

What Harvestman next for Nottinghamshire? 

Following on from the exciting discovery of Nottinghamshire's first Platybunus pinetorum (C.L. Koch, 1839) at Gleadthorpe in 2020, and with a number of other Harvestmen (either large or extremely tiny) turning up at other sites across the UK, it rather begs the question as to what's possibly next for Nottinghamshire?

The next most likely Nottinghamshire addition would be the confirmation of Dicranopalpus caudatus (Dresco, 1948). This has recently been seperated from the once easy to identify Dicranopalpus ramosus (Simon, 1909) after recent research by Hay Wijnhoven and Carlos E. Prieto, ended with the revalidation of Dicranopalpus caudatus to seperate species level once again. Visually identical to D. ramosus, microscopic examination of the male penis is required to determine species with certainty. But here's the three most likely species to turn up in Nottinghamshire, based purely on the fact that they are all in the UK already.

  • Dicranopalpus lavatus (Canestrini, 1874) appeared in several southern counties during 2020, with a Norfolk record meaning it could be found here soon. Has just been confirmed from Yorkshire in March 2021.
  • Leiobunum limbatum (L.Koch, 1861) Is another large species which was recorded new to the UK at Colne Lancashire in 2019. It was recorded in the same locality again in 2020, so looks to be another to look out for.
  • Scotolemon doriae (Pavesi, 1878) is a tiny orange Harvestman which could easily be mistaken for a mite. Originally found new to the UK in a  Plymouth cemetery in December 2017 (Bilton, 2018a), it has since been recorded at a single Guernsey site, where several hundred were present on three separate occasions in 2020 (Marquis, A.).
 
Is there new hope for Clipstone Old Quarter's Glow Worms?

After years of neglect, leading to a quite remarkable deterioration of some wonderful grass heathland habitat, there appears to be hope on the horizon for the possible restoration of Clipstone Old Quarter. Clipstone Old Quarter forms part of the Birklands West and Ollerton Corner Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is one of two SSSI's making up the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve (NNR).
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Regular visitors to www.eakringbirds.com will be aware of our association with Glow Worms, in particular with our former study colony at Clipstone Old Quarter. It's an association that is well known across the UK and one which is (or at least was) enormously well respected among those with a similar interest in Glow Worms. But ultimately it was an association which became tainted, as opinions divided, egos clashed and in particular, that those monitoring some Glow Worm related groups on social media, became so controlling and authoritarian that it made many feel that they had no option other than to leave. We were among those who felt compelled to leave.

But leaving the ever increasing aggressiveness of social media was never a problem, as we were forced through ill health to ease down and ultimately cease regular surveying of Glow Worms at Clipstone Old Quarter. It was an association which began back in 2008, following a chance encounter with a wandering Glow Worm larva and the rest as they say .... is history.

That chance encounter led to well over 1,000 site surveys, never missing a night from before the first female emerged, till around a week after the last female was recorded glowing wherever it was on site.
 
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It was a mammoth effort, incredibly worthwhile and which eventually led to new information regarding the biology and habits of this wonderous and quite magical beetle. Surveying finally stopped in 2017, after ill health finally forced us to reduce our survey area to a more practical and managable level. It ultimately turned out that 2017 was a short season - not believed to be shorter as a direct consequence of surveying less of the site than normal, but more likely induced via several other factors once comparisons with previous years data had been made. This included a possible natural decrease in the population (especially of females) in some survey sections.
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Fig 01. ... Percentage of 'one night' females 2009 - 2017
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2011 .nM 100 Jun 12 - Jun 27 Max 92.0%
2017 nM 71 Jun 16 - Jun 25 Max 86.0%
2010 .nM 114 Jun 17 - Jul 02 Max 84.0%
2014 nM 90 May 30 - Jun 19 Max 82.0%
2009 nM 64 Jun 13 - Jun 20 Max 72.0%
2012 nM 67 Jun 26 - Jun 29 Max 70.0%
2013 nM 55 Jun 23 - Jun 29 Max 68.0%
2016 nM 38 Jun 22 - Jun 27 Max 66.0%
  Fig 08 shows the maximum recorded percentages of 'one night' females at Clipstone Old Quarter between 2010 and 2017. The total number of males (nM) recorded during each season is given in column two, with column three showing the date range per 50 females involved and column four giving the peak percentage of females mated on the first night.

The high number of males was the subject of many conversations between Glow Worm enthusiasts on social media. But the percentage of 'one night' females eventually proved to be similar to three other seasons, despite us thinking to the contrary at the time. In the end, what had initially seemed to be very high numbers of males at the time, wasn't really that unusual based on our own records.
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But it was other factors such as habitat and larval loss resulting from damaging commercial forestry operations that probably had the greatest effect. These operations were neccessary on two accounts - one being that Pine is purely grown by Forestry England as a profitable crop at the end of the day and second, that the removal of Pines was required as part of Natural England's existing management plan to restore Sherwood Forest NNR's Pine plantations back to lowland heath.
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  But the process of felling and extraction takes a heavy toll on habitat, especially when operations are carried out in wet weather. The felling and removal of one particular Clipstone Old Quarter plantation in 2014 proved disastrous and effectively left the area looking like the Somme battlefield. It was no exaggeration, as the picture on the left shows. Although the habitat lost along this area has since recovered to a degree, Glow Worm numbers haven't.

Over the years, damage has been considerable to some areas of Clipstone Old Quarter through one means or another and it takes several years before it becomes suitable again. Glow Worm numbers in the worst affected areas have yet to show any real signs of increasing again, even five years after.

Increases in Glow Worm populations following large-scale losses are slow and if habitat remains unsuitable, or there is persistant disruption for a number of years, damage to Glow Worm populations in forested areas increases year on year. Eventually these populations weaken, become increasingly less viable and ever more isolated and eventually tend to die out.
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Its the site's larval populations that generally takes the brunt of forestry operations when the Autumn and Winter felling and extraction work is generally carried out. But Glow Worms are tenacious beetles and small numbers can withstand even the worst apocalyptic destruction for a time, although the damage to fragile populations is usually done by then and it takes many years for numbers to recover to anywhere remotely near previous levels. These small populations have proved difficult to find and our research has showed that these populations consist at best, of just a handful of females each year. It means that you can walk the forest for years and only locate these isolated populations after maybe four or five years. You just happen to strike lucky.
 
Volunteer surveying on behalf of the Nottinghamshire Glow Worm Survey (NGWS) has located females in previously unknown areas of the Country Park and other forested areas adjacent to Clipstone Old Quarter. But while these small populations might suggest the Glow Worm is common, it has been found not to be the case.

The map shows all the Glow Worm locations recorded in the general Sherwood Forest area of Nottinghamshire. The locations are based on existing records and those recieved by the Nottinghamshire Glow Worm Survey since 2012. The smaller dots refer to locations with very small populations or number of records, sometimes based on the sighting of just a single glowing female. The largest red dot is Clipstone Old Quarter, which is part of three Glow Worm population complexes in this part of Nottinghamshire, namely (from top to bottom) Clumber Park, Sherwood Forest NNR and Sherwood Pines. Glow Worms in the Harlow Wood area now seem solely restricted to Harlow Wood, but there are a handful of former Glow Worm sites located at nearby commercially forested sites. These have been well surveyed by NGWS surveyors but always produced negative results.

The recovery of Glow Worm numbers in the worst affected areas of Clipstone Old Quarter, have yet to be recorded and the same applies to any of the other small, isolated Glow Worm populations also monitored in the Sherwood Forest NNR. But while forestry operations have contributed greatly to Glow Worm decline at Clipstone Old Quarter, its certainly not the only contributor.

Sorry if you liked car rallying, but the ending of the Dukeries Car Rally stage through Sherwood Forest was largely down to us and several other parties, after putting the (then) Forestry Commission under pressure to stop hosting the rally. It was done for conservation purposes only and even now, still seems unbelievable that the event was ever allowed to go through a National Nature Reserve in June, especially considering that Natural England or the renamed Forestry England never insisted on any protection measures to the habitat from oil spills and fires as a result of crashes etc. Rather ironically, if you wanted to run a moth trap on Forestry England land, they would not issue you with a permit to trap without having a petrol spill kit!

But we had good reason to get the rally stopped. The effects of the rally in June were great, regardless of whether it was bone dry or very wet. Either way, the vegetation on the forest track verges became covered in thick dust, sand and stones, or a chocolate-like mud, while other areas were trodden by the watching public. And then, following the rally each year, came the mechanical scraping and smoothing of the forest tracks, which saw the resulting stone spoil tipped on to the verges, disaster for many Glow Worms and other invertebrates.
 
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The Dukeries Rally was also proven to be responsible in the eradication of at least one Nightjar nest which in a way perhaps helped the cause. So at least we had other parties with the same view as ours, agreeing that a National Nature Reserve was not the place to hold an event of this kind, especially when  considering it was detrimental to some of the species it was supposed to be giving protection to. It would have been fine for the event to have been held in Autumn or Winter and we'd have had no problem with that.
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But one of the most worrying factors was the deteriorating conditions along the grass strip running alongside the Sustrans path. Increasing scrub encroachment along sections A, B and C, meant that it soon became impossible to survey those sections, as existing stands of Bracken and Bramble encroached further. But Birch and Oak scrub soon added to the increasing Bracken and Bramble problem and it was a problem that nobody addressed. Up until the Autumn and Winter of 2015/16, the grass strip was always cut once a year between September and March.
 
 
This we had previously agreed as being suitable for Glow Worms, when we had a group walk and talk with the Forestry Commission's ecologist and other FC staff a number of years previously. The aim was to show those attending Glow Worms, to walk around Clipstone Old Quarter, talk about their ecology, habitat requirements and to discuss how the site could be better managed. They even helped us with the night's surveying and it all ended extremely positive.
 
But after 2015, the annual cutting of the grass strip running alongside the Sustrans path stopped. Since 2008, it became known as sections A, B, C and D of our survey route to Glow Worm enthusiasts across the UK and Europe, who visited www.eakringbirds.com for regular updates and sightings.

The well known and popular attraction of the website was how frequently it was updated. Having up to date results and survey counts on an almost daily basis (often updated immediately on arrival back home) ensured that people regularly kept visiting the website. It was also quite unique as being the only website to provide quality, reliable data and updated analysis on a daily basis. It made people keep coming back.

Clipstone Old Quarter soon became nationally known for producing the first larva and first female Glow Worm in the UK on numerous occasions. Indeed, it is known that some never began visiting their Glow Worm sites, until the first had appeared here.

This happened on a number of years between 2009 and 2020 and was something we put down to our habit of beginning surveys a couple of weeks before the we thought the first female would occur. 
 
 
Cutting had always been done by tractor pulled gang mower, either in early Spring or late Autumn and to a minimum height of four inches. The last mowing of sections of A, B, C and D, took place sometime between September 2015 and March 2016 and it has remained untouched since. This has allowed the spread of extremely invasive plants such as Bramble, Willowherb and Bracken to encroach across all grass sections. Oak and Birch scrub soon added to the encroachment problem, which increases as you near the A6075 Peafield Lane.

The speed at which the grass/heath habitat has deteriorated has really been astonishing, so the accompanying 'then and now' photographs will give the reader some indication of both the mouting problem and short timescale. But how its been allowed to become such a problem is something of a mystery.
 
 
Back in our 2017 Glow Worm summary, it was mentioned that 'section D was becoming less suitable for Glow Worms and is now in need of some light management. This year, it seemed increasingly evident that females were becoming more confined to the centre of the grass strip in Section D, as scrub and invasive weeds encroach from both sides'. Well looking at the grass sections now, such a comment shows just how right our opinion was at the time. Scrub Oak and Birch growth, alongside Bramble and Bracken etc, have now become such a problem that it is now totally impossible to walk the grass strip anymore. The difference is unbelievably sad, in view of what Clipstone Old Quarter once was.

But I have no idea if it was planned to miss a few years cutting as part of some deliberate management decision, but I think not and so somehow the site has been left and the grass strip has deteriorated alarmingly. Vegetative encroachment has assisted the decrease in the number of females being found along the path edges in this section. We had noted this particular aspect of population shift and decline in previous years. So female larvae searching for a pupation site with an open aspect (ideal for glowing and attracting males from) now either have to wander further, or are forced to pupate in a less suitable (heavily vegetated) site than they did a few years ago.
 
  Whichever way it's looked at, Clipstone Old Quarter has been neglected by those responsible for managing the Sherwood Forest NNR. Personally, I think that all the effort and available money has been concentrated towards the Sherwood Forest Country Park and Budby South Forest. Both these sites now come under the management of the RSPB, although Natural England presumably still have final say in the day to day management of both these areas and the rest of the NNR.

Whether the lack of yearly cutting has evolved as the result of confusion between the landowners, Natural England or Forestry England, as to who's responsibilty the cutting actually is I have no idea.

Despite Clipstone Old Quarter forming part of the Birklands West and Ollerton Corner SSSI, the only work undertaken has been the removal of the last of the Pines a few years ago, the removal of the compartment fencing and (in 2021) the wooden compartment gates, the yearly cutting of the forest track verges, Bracken control in the clear fell areas, haloing around some of the ancient Oaks, but seemingly nothing to help the site's Glow Worm population.
 
Now we've always been more than aware that Glow Worms are afforded no protection status through being especially rare or uncommon, but our own years of continuous surveys, in addition to those sent in to the Nottinghamshire Glow Worm Survey, all show that the Nottinghamshire population has declined and still continues to do so.

No matter which particular 'authority' you listen to, those with an interest and intimate knowledge of the county's Glow Worms, agree that there is a very valid concern for the long term survival of the Glow Worm in Nottinghamshire.

Fellow Glow Worm enthusiast and local expert Martin Dale, Dilys and myself, tried for years to get some official recognition that there is a decline in UK Glow Worm populations, as well as in Nottinghamshire. But it seems that as long as the odd Glow Worm keeps turning up in gardens across southern UK counties, then there is blanket refusal to accept the declines noted from a number of counties, even those declines recorded by a number of other experts.

It is easy for those who sit at home and dismiss our claims as fanciful, which makes it all incredibly frustrating. It seems that there is reluctance to accept, or indeed even publish any news or findings with a negative slant. 


But at last there seems to be some hope and following a chance meeting with representatives from the Sherwood Forest Trust and Thoresby Estate recently, it was determined that something is actually being done and probably beginning late in 2021. There obviously needs to be a number of meetings and consultations to determine a plan of action to take and based on the opinions of the various interested/involved parties. I have been asked to be involved and I have initially accepted the offer.

But make no mistake, the problem of returning Clipstone Old Qaurter to something like its best is a large one and one which will require much effort from all parties to be make it successful. It will be drastic work, as the grass strip has dreadfully deteriorated, the Sustrans path needs reinstating to previous its width and needs levelling as there is increasing erosion from rainfall and mechanical erosion from footfall and cycle use.

The work will affect Glow Worms, but it has to be done now and thankfully, it seems that the wheels are in motion ... at last.

Let's hope the Glow Worm is in for a better future here.
 
 
  Early 2021 Oil Beetles survey results

After two early surveys, the first Oil Beetle of the year (a male) was found freshly emerged and heading for cover on a fairly breezy, but mild February 18th. In terms of early dates, this looks to be the earliest at Budby and follows a spell of cold weather that ended a few days prior to my visit.

The next report was of two females present on February 27th, when I was expecting better numbers, given the recent mild weather. I must admit to being concerned that this population is weakening.

A site visit on March 7th produced a total of seven adults, which included five males and two females. Five of these were found on the spoil heaps created from recently scraped areas of the heath.

Seven is still a low count, but the weather had been dry and cool with occasional frosts since my previous visit.
 
New to Nottinghamshire - Bankesia conspurcatella (Zeller, 1859) Taleporiinae:Psychidae

A quite remarkable discovery, which should serve as a reminder to all, that important county records can occur anywhere. Found by Phil Cadman on his Worksop kitchen wall on February 27th, 2021, Phil potted the moth and identified it as bpossibly being Dahlica inconspicuella, a moth which is visually almost identical.
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The identification seemed sound when Phil emailed the details and was the most likely species based on photographs.

However, in view of the suburban Worksop location and Dahlica inconspicuella's restricted range in the county, I suspected that it may be Bankesia conspurcatella, based on the knowledge that Bankesia conspurcatella had turned up in urban areas before. 

I talked with Phil and suggested he brought the moth over to me, so that I could photograph it, before considering getting the identification checked to be certain. On photographing the specimen and then later checking images on the internet, I considered Bankesia conspurcatella to be the more likely suspect.

But as my suspicion was only based on seeing a number of Dahlica inconspicuella males, which all looked to have more plain, leaden grey markings than this specimen, we needed to get it checked. And so thanks to the very kind assistance of Martin Gray, the following morning, the moth was indeed confirmed as being Bankesia conspurcatella within a few hours.
 
 
Large numbers of Dahlica triquetrella at Market Warsop

On February 19th 2021, I visited Market Warsop Cemetery, where numbers of Dahlica triquetrella (Hübner, 1813) larval cases were found on a number of gravestones situated close to the cemetery entrance in late 2020.

It
was the first time 
D. triquetrella had been recorded there and the discovery came soon after finding it present on gravestones at Retford Cemetery. Finding it at Market Warsop was a surprise at the time, considering how many times the site had been  visited to look for the similar cases of Dahlica lichenella (Linnaeus, 1761). Sadly, that species seems to be in decline there over the past few years, but does still remain. It would certainly be worth checking old gravestones in cemeteries throughout in Nottinghamshire. Rock Cemetery in central Nottingham would be worth trying.
 
New leaf miners for Foxcovert Plantation and Ploughman Wood

Following a tip on Facebook, where I asked people to look out for two common Bramble leaf miners and it's extremely pleasing to say that at least one person took up the challenge and immediately met with success.

And through the easy exchange of photographs via WhatsApp, I was able to identify some blotch mines as being created last Autumn by the larva of Coleophora violacea (Ström, 1783). This was quickly followed by photographs showing the silvery/white gallery mine of Stigmella aurella (Fabricius, 1775). Despite Stigmella aurella being abundant and likely found in every square kilometer of the county, both finds by Julie Lockett represent new species for the NWT's Foxcovert Plantation reserve.

Julie's early success was soon followed up by sending over some more photographs, which I identified as both Coleophora violacea and Stigmella aurella again, but also Coptotriche marginea (Haworth, 1828). All three species appear to be new to Ploughman Wood at Lambley and once again shows how little we know of what species are at many sites and which (via modern technology) can be identified almost instantly. It also emphasises how easy it is for anyone to make a useful contribution to our knowledge of species diversity.
 
The Staphylinid Bledius limicola on Thoresby Pit Top

A visit to Thoresby Pit Top in January proved fruitful in proving that the attractive Staphylinid Bledius limicola (Tottenham, 1940) appears to have colonised the site. 

Bledius limicola has a largely coastal distribution around the UK, with only two  unconfirmed records from South Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire listed on the NBN Atlas. Derek Lott listed a single Nottinghamshire record, quoted as (Wright, Nottingham 1990) in the Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects Vol. 12 Part 5, but this record has failed to make it onto the NBN Atlas.

There appear to be no other documented records from Nottinghamshire, until two in  2020, which included one attracted to MV light trap run in Market Warsop on a warm, humid night of high insect activity on 23/06/20. Due to the rare nature of Bledius limicola in Nottinghamshire, the specimen (a female) was sent to the county recorder who confirmed the original identification.
 
 
Another female was then found later the same year, recorded in a small tunnel dug underneath a small stone on Thoresby Pit Top on 08/08/20. On another visit to Thoresby Pit Top on 21/01/21, a total of 12 Bledius limicola were found in a complex of tunnels dug underneath an old plastic traffic sign discarded on the pit top. This obviously proved that successful breeding had taken place and among those found, were a number of horned males.
 
  Ectoedemia heringella mines found at Southwell

The distinctive leaf mines of one of Nottinghamshire's more recent colonisers, Ectoedemia heringella (Mariani, 1839) are best looked for during the Winter months.

Although found new to the county in 2020, it is still uncertain whether Ectoedemia heringella had been recorded in Nottinghamshire previously. I cannot trace any records dated prior to the finding of several leaf mines on Holm Oak at Colwick Country Park in June 2020 and then at Nottingham University's Jubilee Campus in July 2020. It is a moth which is currently extending its range nationally, after being recorded for the first time in the UK at London in 2002.

The host trees are a number of evergreen Oaks such as Quercus ilex, of which mature specimens are occasionally found in Parks and Gardens. Quercus ilex seems to have become increasingly used in recent planting schemes, so will allow this moth to continue to spread north.
 
Young trees planted at Nottingham University's Jubilee Campus are already heavily infested with leaf mines and by the end of last year, small numbers of  Ectoedemia heringella mines were found on trees at Bulwell Hall and Woodthorpe Park. In late January 2021, I found small numbers of mines on a tree in the grounds of Southwell Minster. Like trees present at Woodthorpe Park and Arnot Hill Park, this tree had been checked for signs of this moth for a number of years. Several trees at Arnot Hill Park still need to be checked, as does another growing at the Nottingham Arboretum, which must have mines on them by now. Other trees to check can be found at Newstead Abbey and outside North Notts College on Carlton Road in Worksop. A Holm Oak at Carr Bank Park in Mansfield, was checked recently, but there was no evidence that Ectoedemia heringella has reached this far north in the county.
 
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