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Coleophora fuscicornis - Index

Description
One of the larger coleophorids, having a wingspan of between 15 -19mm, dark glossy green in colour (appearing almost black in the net), with conspicuous orange eye-lashes, and slender in build in the typical coleophorid manner. The only species it can be confused with is C. trifolii, which lacks the orange eye-lashes. Other glossy green coleophorids are small.

This species appears to be localised to north-east Essex, there being just one record (of a single adult) made outside the county, from Dorset in 2001 (Gibbs, 2001).

Larva feed on smooth tare Vicia tetrasperma and rarely on meadow vetchling Lathyrus pratensis as long as V. tetrasperma is in the vicinity. Larva forms a case from a seedpod, eating the green seeds and then using the pod as a mobile home to attack other pods.The only larva likely to cause confusion is that of the tortix moth Cydia nigricana.

History
Discovered as a British species at Fingringhoe Wick NR in 1973 (Emmet & Uffen, 1975), although it appears to be extinct there now, and Little Oakley, where it still survives. Very little further recording took place until the mid-1990s. Based on available knowledge, the species was given Provisional Red Data Book status.

Recent Surveys
From the mid-1990s a number of sites have been visited, some have drawn a blank but others support the moth, sometimes in good numbers. It was thought to be a sedentary species, not straying far from the coast, but it is now known to breed well inland. The Dorset record may indicate unknown colonies or migration, and the moth might be found breeding far away from north-east Essex if searched for. The inland record (at Colchester) must have been formed during the last fifteen years as the habitat before then was unsuitable.

Reference:
Emmet, A.M., & Uffen, R.W.J., 1975. Coleophora fuscicornis (Zeller, 1847) (Lep.: Coleophoridea), a species new to Britain. Entomologistís Record.J.Var. 87: 259 - 266.
Gibbs, D., 2001.
Coleophora fuscicornis (Zeller, 1847) (Lep.: Coleophoridea) discovered in Dorset. Entomologistís Gazette 52: 166.