Lichen Case-bearer - Dahlica lichenella

Description

Only the wingless females and larvae have been recorded in Britain. Positive identification depends on dissection of the genitalia, or examination of the head plate of the pupal exuviae. Specimens should be taken sparingly as excessive collecting could cause localised eradication of this species with limited dispersal ability. Apparently vacated cases with extruded pupal exuviae may contain over 50 ova.

Habitat

Check for the larva which are more likely to be found than the adults (see life history)

When to see it

Wingless females emerge in March or April.

Life History

The adult lives a very short time, so the cased larva is more likely to be found on sunny rocks, stone walls, wooden posts and tree trunks. The case, triangular in cross section and tapered at both ends, is covered in granules of sand, lichen and/or algae. The larva grows from 1 mm on hatching in May to about 5 mm in late September, overwintering full grown until the following February. The larva pupates in the case, and in March or April the pupa extrudes from the case for the wingless female to emerge and lay her eggs in the vacated case.

UK Status

Winged males of Dahlica lichenella occur in Europe but only the wingless females have been recorded in Britain; in a few places in southern England, Cheshire, southern Scotland and Perthshire, but the species may have been under-recorded because of identification problems, and males might yet be found. In the Butterfly Conservation’s Microlepidoptera Report 2011 this species was classified as Nationally Scarce A.

VC55 Status

It appears to be uncommon in Leicestershire and Rutland, where there are few records. L&R Moth Group status = D (rare or rarely recorded).

Reference
11.005 BF179

Leicestershire & Rutland Map

UK Map