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


Coleophora alticolella Zeller, 1849
[Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae]

Common Rush Case-bearer

Coleophora alticolella Zeller, 1849. Linn. ent. 4: 341.

Seed-feeder and case-bearer: Larva feeds on seeds. The full-grown case is 6 mm long, and not separable from those of Coleophora glaucicolella (British leafminers).

Cases of Coleophora alticolella on Juncus Image: © Charles Baker (British leafminers)
Cases of Coleophora alticolella on Juncus
Image: © (British leafminers)

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).

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

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths (by Rob Edmunds) and the Encyclopedia of Life. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Juncus       British leafminers

Hosts elsewhere:

Juncus       Belgian Lepidoptera
Luzula       Belgian Lepidoptera

Time of year - larvae: August to October, some larvae feeding again in the spring (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: June and July, possibly late April and May, at sunrise, dusk and night (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: The most widespread and common British Coleophora species, occurring wherever the appropriate rush species grow and seed, up to 660 metres above sea level in some years (UKMoths), including Anglesey, Ayrshire, Banffshire, Bedfordshire, Breconshire, Buckinghamshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Denbighshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Dunbartonshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Gloucestershire, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Ross, East Suffolk, East Sutherland, Easterness, Fife, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Haddington, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Kincardineshire, Kirkudbrightshire, Leicestershire, Main Argyll, Merionethshire, Middlesex, Montgomeryshire, North Aberdeenshire, North Ebudes, North Essex, North Hampshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Orkney, Outer Hebrides, Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Devon, South Hampshire, South Lancashire, South Northumberland, South Somerset, South Wiltshire, South-east Yorkshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, Stirlingshire, Surrey, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Lancashire, West Norfolk, West Perthshire, West Ross, West Suffolk, West Sussex, West Sutherland, Westerness, Westmorland, Wigtownshire, Worcestershire and Shetland (NBN Atlas), and the Channel Is. (Fauna Europaea).

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

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Crete, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Iceland, Italian mainland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central and South, Sardinia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Host species unknown

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Chrysocharis laricinellae (Ratzeburg, 1848) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Euderus viridis Thomson, 1878 Eulophidae: Entiinae
Hyssopus olivaceus (Thomson, 1878) Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Baryscapus endemus (Walker 1839) Eulophidae: Tetrastichinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Agathis lugubris (Förster, 1862) Braconidae: Agathidinae
Bracon osculator Nees, 1811 Braconidae: Braconinae
Chelonus atripes Thomson, 1874 Braconidae: Cheloninae
Campoplex alticolellae Horstmann, 1980 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Diadegma sordipes (Thomson, 1887) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Gelis areator (Panzer, 1804) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Gelis avarus (Förster 1850) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Gelis exareolatus (Forster 1850) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Gelis seyrigi Ceballos, 1925 Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Scambus inanis (Schrank, 1802) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae
Scambus brevicornis (Gravenhorst, 1829) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae
Neliopisthus elegans (Ruthe, 1855) Ichneumonidae: Tryphoniinae

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