Argyresthia spinosella belongs to the family Argyresthiidae which, according to wikipedia, is a family known as the ‘Shiny Head-Standing Moths’. This on account of how they stand with their head bowed and rear raised.
A small moth with a 9-11mm wingspan(1). This is one that can be identified in the garden with a good photograph and reference material. It is single brooded and flies May-July (2).
It’s place in the Garden (Visitor/Lured)
The larva/caterpillars feed on the leaves of Blackthorn & Plums. Whilst not present in the Garden at the time of writing (Dec 2022), Blackthorn is present in nearby Woodlands and our Local Nature Reserve.
All stages of a moths development are subject to a wide range of predators. Including small mammals, birds and amphibians. Other invertebrates are also a major threat, including dragonflies, beetles, lacewing and wasps. As such whilst many view certain caterpillars as a pest, these small packets of protein help support a wide array of other beneficial and interesting species. Moths are of course interesting in their own right and are very welcome in the Garden.
How to encourage the species to your garden
Current distribution maps (2) place this species across much of England and Wales, so if you live in an area with Argyresthia spinosella already present, there is a fair chance that by introducing this food plant to your own garden the moth will arrive of its own accord. Blackthorn of course produces sloes which are sought after by both Birds and Gin drinkers alike. However it is known to sucker easily and in larger gardens / out of the way areas, its spread can go unnoticed if not careful.
Alternatively, you can lure moths to you by leaving a secure window open and a light on during the warmer months, or better still invest in a moth trap. Even if you don’t see this species, you may be visited by many other interesting species.
- UK Moths: Species Account Page. https://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/argyresthia-spinosella/adult/ – Accessed online 11th December 2022
- Sterling, P & Parsons, M (2012): Bloomsbury Wildlife Guides: Field Guide to the Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland. Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd