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


Caloptilia populetorum (Zeller, 1839)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Clouded Slender

Gracilaria populetorum Zeller, 1839. Isis: 209
Caloptilia populetorum
(Zeller, 1839).

Leaf-miner: A broad intial mine from tip to base of leaf, which later contracts. It then folds the leaf edge, later it rolls the whole leaf longitudinally. Compare with C. betulicola, which rolls the leaf transversally (British leafminers).

At first the mine is epidermal and rather large, sometimes even occupying the entire length of the leaf. At a later stage the larva begins to consume the tissue below the epidermis, and the mine becomes a tentiform one; the leaf is strongly contracted by then. The epidermis is brown. The mine may be lower-surface or upper-surface. After the mine has been vacated the larva moves twice. At first it lives in a rolled, sometimes just folded, leaf margin, next in a leaf that has been rolled lengthwise. Pupation in a cocoon at the underside of a leaf (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Despite the scientific name, the larvae feed on birch leaves (UKMoths).

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).

Whitish, head light brown; pronotum without black markings (Brown, 1947a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

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

Described by Patocka and Zach (1995a) and Patocka and Turcani (2005) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths by Nigel Whinney. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Betula       British leafminers
Betula       Pitkin & Plant
Betula       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Acer campestre Field Maple British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula pendula Silver Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula pubescens Downy Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: July-August (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: August onwards, overwintering after which they may be seen until April or May (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: A species of moorland and heath, having a wide distribution over much of mainland Britain (UKMoths) including East Kent, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Herefordshire, North Somerset, Shropshire, South Wiltshire, South-east Yorkshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, Surrey, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Norfolk, West Suffolk and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas). See also British leafminers distribution map.

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland (Fauna Europaea and National Biodiversity Data Centre Map).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, East, North, Northwest and South, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Acer campestre, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Diaglyptidea conformis (Gmelin, 1790) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Acrodactyla quadrisculpta (Gravenhorst, 1820) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae
Itoplectis alternans (Gravenhorst, 1829) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae
Scambus inanis (Schrank, 1802) 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 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page