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Life in Freshwater

China-mark Moth (Nymphula stagnata)

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Larva of China-mark MothLarva of China-mark Moth on water lily

This is a moth of the Pyralid family. Typically the adults are small and often brightly patterned; the Small Magpie Moth looks very similar to the much bigger Magpie Moth even though it is a very different species. The Brown China-mark Moth is a heavily mottled brown and white individual flying in early summer. The larva lives in a case made from pond weed. A species associated with ponds and slow moving water where the larval food plants live. The larvae live in the water and the adult amongst the bank vegetation. Found throughout northern Europe .

ECOLOGY: The larva is a fascinating creatures as it commences its life feeding on water weed such as water lilies (from which the scientific name is derived) and the Common Pond Weed (Potamogeton). It enters the leaf feeding from within it and obtaining oxygen from the air spaces within the plant. Later, it emerges to feed on the outside and constructs a distinctive flat case of the weed. This is a particularly unusual lepidopteran in that the larvae live underwater. It cuts small ovals of leaves and binds them together with silk threads to form a flat "pouch" within which it lives. This is dragged around behind it somewhat like a caddis fly. Within this a large air bubble develops and as the larva feeds so the head can be seen to be surrounded in air (a silvery appearance). Some other species are known to use gills and do not have the bubble of air. It hibernates during the winter and resumes feeding in the spring, eventually forming a cocoon within which to pupate near to the food plant. The adult emerges in the summer but moves away from the watervery little, living only a few days. After mating it lays eggs on the underside of water plants by bending the abdomen around the edge. The adult flies between early and late summer but lives for just a few days.











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