Friday, 5 April 2019

The Virgin Bagworm

This Mothing lark is a funny ol' game isn't it?!..

I've found myself straying towards some of the more unconventional methods of searching for Moths of late, be it inspecting Pine Cones for the emergence holes of Cydia conicolana (see previous blog post), or having my hands imitate a pin cushion while looking amongst Gorse bushes for the case-bearing larvae of Coleophora albicosta - the hunt for the latter of which, is still underway!

This week however, I've probably topped the 'unconventional method chart', for now at least, finding my newest lifer - Luffia lapidella, the 'Virgin Bagworm' by staring at brick walls. Yep, putting dignity to one side while passing cars and pedestrians gawp at the bloke stood with his face inches from a wall, looking like someone who was released just a tad premature but missing that long sleeved white jacket he's been wearing for years.

BUT...it was worth it! lapidella feeds on Lichen and having checked various walls and the odd lichen-covered headstone, it was to be found somewhere closer to home. 30secs from my front door, in actual fact, on a wall which we pass almost daily. Me and Ralph (my trusty canine sidekick) were on our way back home and I slowed down as usual to check 'the' wall - using the whole my-dog's-having-a-sniff-so-I-better-wait-here-and-stare-at-this-wall routine and what do ya know! An amazing feat of camouflage by the tiny Bagworm but the shape and size finally caught my eye - found ya!

THE wall!

They're a little unusual in that the wingless, grub-like females are parthenogenetic (self-fertile).
I took her home for a closer look under the microscope and returned her shortly after, with camera, for some pics in her 'natural' brick-made habitat.


Only looking at the interior of the case gives away that it's made of a nice, soft to the touch silk, and not Lichen and Brick dust!..

Showing how they have such good grip for maneuvering around vertical walls:


Just check out that camouflage:



So there we have it. If you want to see your own - go stare at walls! :)

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