The unprepossessing creature (unkind people might call it 'drab') on the right, is possibly the rarest living organism I’ve ever seen.

I caught this tiny moth in the trap and took a couple of photos. However, the ‘micros’ are hard work.

Usually the process is as follows:
  1. skim quickly through the book and don’t find it
  2. look more carefully through the book and don’t find it
  3. by the third pass I’ve usually narrowed it down and by a process of elimination I sometimes find it
Occam’s Razor and swear words often do the trick.

On this occasion the third, fourth and fifth scans of Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland failed to reveal the identity of the tiny chappy.

Often I’m convinced that  it isn’t in the book, but on this occasion I was proved  right - it wasn't. After handing it over to the experts it turned out to be Blastobasis rebeli.

There are just 3 previous Lancashire records and not a  lot in the whole country. It is fairly new to science being only recently discovered. Its worldwide distribution consists of a few places in the UK, plus Madeira!*

Like the majority of micro moths  this doesn't have a common name but I'm proposing 'The Billy Blastoff'.

Blastobasis rebeli
Tiny Eggs

Screenshot from Mapmate (the biological recording software) showing the three previous Lancashire records of Blastobasis rebeli - all from 2010. This record has been accepted by the county recorder.

Moth egg covered cord in the evening (note the abseiling caterpillas), and larva covered cord in the morning

Meanwhile there have been more Eccentric Egg Events (known to acronym fans, all over the world as E.E.E.’s). A cord in the conservatory was coloured black for about 10 cm.  On seeing this ‘dirt’ I resolved to up my game, apropos the cleaning. On closer inspection, and to my amazement, these turned out to be minute eggs. I estimated around 2,000 of them.

Equally minute, were the caterpillars abseiling down on silken threads. These were much like the kind of Commando Forward Surgical Group you often see. The next morning all the eggs had become larvae. I’m not sure what species of moth these belong to, but I have my suspicions. Several of their number are currently enjoying a light lunch of dandelion leaf. I like to serve good, honest, locally sourced, food - so, I see no need to add a Raspberry Jus, 'Textures of Onion' or Truffle Foam.

Some more recent Moths -  Autumnal species - Green Carpet, Centre Barred Sallow, Brown-spot Pinion, Black Rustic

*It  should  be noted that this rarity is only in terms of the number of documented records, not  necessarily the number of individuals that exist in the world. 

In absolute terms Blastobasis rebeli is rare, but in order to maintain a viable population a small invertebrate like this would need numbers of many thousands at the very least - possibly millions. Furthermore, although only recently discovered, the species clearly didn't recently evolve

In terms of number of individuals the Bearded Vulture, for example,  that I've seen in Greece, will be a lot rarer.
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  1. Had to smile at your comment about the typical process of trying to work out a micro moth ID - I can relate! Glad you got your ID in the end, an interesting and informative blog post. :)

  2. Cheers Jan, yes, they are tricky aren't they. So many times I've been convinced that the moth isn't in the book. I get an expert ID then think 'how did I manage to miss that'??

  3. Oh my I have just spent half an hour hoovering up my bedspread after noticing thousands of tiny caterpillar type insects, I eventually saw they were abseiling from the shell lampshade, after blaming my partner for dumping a bag on the bed, oops is this what they were?


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