The leaf and stem mines of British flies and other insects

(Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera)

by Brian Pitkin, Willem Ellis, Colin Plant and Rob Edmunds

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Aspilapteryx tringipennella (Zeller, 1839)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Ribwort Slender

Gracilaria tringipennella Zeller, 1839. Isis: 209.
Aspilapteryx tringipennella
(Zeller, 1839).

Leaf-miner: Early mine a silvery gallery in lower epidermis. Subsequently a blotch on the upper epidermis. Internal spinning causes the leaf to pucker and often fold over the blotch, concealing it (British leafminers).

The mine starts as a long, tortuous, lower-surface (rarely upper-surface) epidermal, silvery corridor. After a moult the larva works itself to the upper surface of the leaf and begins to make a blotch, soon a tentiform mine, astride the midrib. The mine contracts very strongly, causing the epidermis to develop strong folds, and the leaf to double, almost concealing the mine. Shortly before pupation the larva gnaws a window in the floor of the mine, leaving only the lower epidermis intact, as a preformed exit opening. Larvae that have hibernated generally leave their mine, and make a new tentiform mine elsewhere (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Larva: The larvae of moths have a head capsule and chewing mouthparts with opposable mandibles (see video of a gracillarid larva feeding), six thoracic legs and abdominal legs (see examples).

The larva is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa.

Pupa: The pupae of moths have visible head appendages, wings and legs which lie in sheaths (see examples).

Pupa in a white fusiform cocoon in the mine (British leafminers).

Adult: The adult is illustrated UKMoths and the Encyclopedia of Life. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers

Hosts elsewhere:

Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Plantago maritima Sea Plantain British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: June-July, October-April (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: There are two generations in the year, the adults being on the wing in May and again in August. The second generation overwinters as a larva (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Britain including Chester and Hampshire (UKMoths); Bedfordshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Denbighshire, Derbyshire, East Cornwall, East Gloucestershire, East Norfolk, East Ross, East Suffolk, Easterness, Elgin, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Herefordshire, Kincardineshire, Mid-west Yorkshire, Middlesex, North Aberdeenshire, North Ebudes, North Essex, North Somerset, North Wiltshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Devon, South Lancashire, South Wiltshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Lancashire, West Norfolk, West Suffolk, Westmorland and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas), and the Channel Is. (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea). Also South Hampshire (British leafminers).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea). See also Ireland's NBDC interactive map.

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Corsica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Dodecanese Is., Estonia, Faroe Is., Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Portuguese mainland, Romania, Russia - Central, Northwest and South, Sardinia, Sicily, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Ukraine and Yugoslavia (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Plantago lanceolata, Plantago maritima

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Apanteles chrysis Nixon, 1973 Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Microgaster messoria Haliday, 1834 Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Pholetesor bicolor (Nees, 1834) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Campoplex jaeckhi (Bauer, 1936) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Campoplex pyraustae Smith, 1931 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Campoplex tumidulus Gravenhorst, 1829 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Diadegma elishae (Bridgman, 1884) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Diadegma exareolator Aubert, 1964 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Diadegma holopygum (Thomson, 1887) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Encrateola laevigata (Ratzeburg, 1848) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Gelis agilis (Fabricius, 1775) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Theroscopus esenbeckii (Gravenhorst, 1815) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Itoplectis maculator (Fabricius, 1775) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae

External links: Search the internet:

Belgian Lepidoptera
Biodiversity Heritage Library
Bladmineerders van Europa
British leafminers
Encyclopedia of Life
Fauna Europaea
NBN Atlas
NHM UK Checklist

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Last updated 12-Apr-2018  Brian Pitkin Top of page