The cigar casebearer is an aptly named insect.

Duchess of Dirt: Newly discovered insect native to eastern Canada

Leslie Cox discovers cigar casebearer in her garden

Leslie Cox

Special to The Record

It seems we are the first to report a new insect on Vancouver Island, according to Dr. Linda Gilkeson.

After a fruitless search on my own, I had sent a photo of what I thought was a pupating insect found on a pear leaf to my friend for identification. I almost stumped her.

She replied, “I LOVE getting a photo I have to work at a bit to find out and then I learn something.”

Turns out this critter is a cigar casebearer (Coleophora serratella) – a moth species native to Europe, Japan, and North America. But here is the rub. This species is native to North America, but east of the Rockies.

Not only is the location confusing, but the food plants listed for this casebearer were non-fruit species. Almost. References noted alder, elm, willow, birch, sorbus, hornbeam, and oak. One source added apple to the list.

But no pear mentioned until I stumbled onto bugguide.net where I found a matching photo to my insect. The author was asking for an ID as he had them on his hawthorn and pear trees.

The person who answered his query posted a photo taken in Oregon. Clarification: this insect has indeed made its way over the Rockies to the west coast.

Digging further, it turns out we are not the first to spot this insect in our garden. Two reported sightings have been noted in the Vancouver area and one on southern Vancouver Island. The Royal BC Museum also has this species on their List of Introduced Species.

Good news is, the cigar casebearer does not appear to be harmful. But the mystery remains in our garden, as I have only spotted one specimen. No others. And when have you ever seen just one insect?

Which prompts me to send out the plea for information again this year.

I am still collaborating with Linda in mapping Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands of insects and diseases as they occur in our gardens, both common and new species.

I am tasked with covering the north Island, so please send me any info and photos to duchessofdirt@telus.net and add “Pest Alert” to the subject line. (I will not open any attachments without it.) All contributions are valuable so I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in the Record

 

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