Agriphila straminella Denis Schiffermiiller

This widely distributed and generally common grass moth sometimes causes damage to grass and cereal ciops, including both spring- and autumn-sown barley and wheat. The larvae bite into the base of the stems and, in spring, often cause death of the central shoots. Damage is also caused to leaves. Holes formed in plant stems, unlike those caused by leatherjackets (p. 163) and wireworms (p. 132), are smooth-sided and not ragged. Attacks occur most frequently on cereal crops following leys or permanent grass.

BIOLOGY

Moths appear from June to August and are often abundant in grassy situations. In common with other related species, they fly mainly at dusk and at night, but they are readily disturbed during the daytime when they fly short distances before resettling, head downwards, on grass stems or other plant material. Eggs are laid during the summer and hatch in the autumn. The larvae feed from September onwards, each inhabiting a flimsy, silk-lined tunnel formed amongst the basal parts of host plants, and in which green particles of frass accumulate. They hibernate in these tunnels during the winter and recommence feeding in the spring. Larvae sometimes occur within the stems of host plants, typically head downwards. Pupation occurs within oval, frass-covered, silken cocoons formed just below the soil surface.

DESCRIPTION

Adult 18-20 mm wingspan; labial palps prominent; forewings mainly white to brownish-white; hindwings grey. Larva up to 13 mm long; body pale purplish-brown; pinacula brown; head and prothoracic plate brown with darker markings.

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