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Sparkling Archaic Sun Moth

Eriocraniidae

Sparkling Archaic Sun Moth, Sparkling Archaic Sun Moths, Eriocraniid Moth, Eriocraniid Moths

A close up image of a species of Sparkling Archaic Sun Moth from insect family Eriocraniidae on a twig

Dyseriocrania subpurpurella-02 (xndr)

by Svdmolen. CC BY 2.5

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Eriocraniidae is a family of micromoths known as the Sparkling Archaic Sun Moths, namely because they are day-flying moths. The larvae cause the most damage. They're leaf miners, leaving distinctive tunnels on the leaf as an indirect result of their feeding behaviour. In doing so, they create unattractive blotches in leaves of broadleaved trees. The most commonly affected include Birch (Betula), Oak (Quercus), and a few genera of Salicales and Rosales. In Britain, these moths will emerge shortly after the leaves expanding in mid-spring.
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Traits

Trees often retain full health during and after infestations.
The mines or blotches left by these insects may be unsightly.

Appearance

Adults: These are tiny insects (wing length: 4-7mm). The wings are typically golden brown with some purple iridescent scales. The width of the forewing is equal to the hindwing. Larvae: Caterpillar larvae are typically colourless when first hatched. With each successive moult, they turn yellow or green and always stay slightly translucent. They appear like tiny, ovular maggots. Mines: These insects create distinctive larval tunnels which look like large, dried-out yellow-brown blotches on the leaf. They're full of intertwining dark lines of insect frass (excrement!). When held up to the light, it's sometimes possible to see the caterpillar inside. Pupae: The cocoon-like structures look like tiny, brown, ovular pellets. When the larvae are ready to pupate, they drop to the floor and form cocoon-like structures in the soil.

Symptoms

Large, brown blisters or blotches in leaves of Hornbeam, Hazel, Oak and Willow.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Eriocraniidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Worldwide

Biological treatment

Dealing with a Leaf Miner infestation can be tricky because the plant leaf itself protects them. Upon detection of a Leaf Mining pest, you should make an effort to remove the damaged leaves, making sure to squish any larvae or pupae before disposal. Always dispose of leaves in with the landfill. Never bin them in compost or food waste bins! Practise crop rotation annually. Pupae can sometimes lie dormant in the soil over winter when conditions are unfavourable. So by rotating your plants, you are making life more difficult for these insects. If you own a greenhouse or are a greenhouse grower, sticky traps are an effective and cheap way to monitor what insects are about. You can use physical barriers to prevent insects from laying eggs on plants. E.g. insect-proof netting can be useful when used on small trees and vegetable plants. On the other hand, using row covers and plastic sheeting can stop any pupae falling into the soil, disrupting the life cycle. This isn't always appropriate for large trees. Attract beneficial insects into your green spaces by planting indigenous plants, herbaceous-wildflower borders, bug hotels, or just by letting some areas grow a little wild! Likewise, birds are top predators of moths and leaf-mining insects. Incorporate bird feeders to encourage birds into the garden.

Chemical treatment

Unfortunately, no chemical treatments are effective against these insects because the leaf epidermis protects them.

Attracts

These insects will use the below plants as the primary food.

Birch

Betula spp.

Oak

Quercus spp.

Willow

Salix spp.

Hornbeam

Carpinus spp.

Hazel

Corylus spp.

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