Sunday 18 January 2015

Micro tip number 3. Epinotia immundana.

Photo, Ben Smart

Epinotia immundana.
Feeds inside alder and Birch catkins, it may move from one catkin to the next through the side of the catkin.
Holes may therefore be apparent as in the photo.

Reddish frass may also be present.
The catkin itself will feel soft as it is being gradually hollowed out.

If you carefully open the catkin by pulling it at both ends, you will hopefully see the larva.
I am told they are quite easy to rear in a decent size pot (8x8cm). Just add a fresh catkin every 4-5 days, and remove the old one once vacated by the larva.
This is the first brood (April) only, the second brood (Sept) feeds in rolled leaves.



  1. First climb your birch and alder trees!!
    Actually, this series of 'where to find…' is very useful Ina and as we've cut down 2 alders I can examine the catkins before the chap comes with the mega-chipper (yes, just like the one in 'Fargo'!). We normally make dead hedges or habitat piles so bugs can crawl away but there is too much of it. Chipping better than Wildlife Trust style bonfires…how do they justify any burning?

  2. I should have added that it is best to breed these larvae out to make sure of identification. There are others that feed on catkins, especially Birch.

  3. I have had a reasoned response from the Wildlife Trust re my comment above about burning.
    " Clearly removing the woody biomass- scrub etc- from the priority open habitat, be it bog or grassland, is known to be important, whether chipping or burning- it’s too bulky to compost without some kind of processing. Thus far I think we’re in agreement? However there are a few reasons we don’t chip as standard. One, to be fair, is financial impact- leasing chippers regularly is really expensive, and owning and maintaining one in house even more so, especially with transport between such scattered sites, and multiple users on dangerous kit is always a risk. On the theme of health and safety- for our staff to use the chipper would require a specific training course each, competence in towing (not all our staff have trailers on their licence), and our insurance does not cover us to hire in plant as standard, we have to arrange bespoke cover. Access to some sites is an issue, too. And also, we haven’t actually seen any compelling evidence that it is better environmentally. Yes fires return the carbon direct to the atmosphere, but when you chip you burn fossil fuels and have the lifetime footprint of the machine to account for, and that’s before transport fuel too."
    Lizzie Wilberforce, Conservation manager for WWWT also adds that she is enquiring about the possibility of a research project into the carbon footprints of various types of land management. I'm sure however she would agree that in our gardens we should be doing our best to conserve the tiny things by piling up the debris in one way or another.


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