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 betulella Heinemann, 1877
[Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae]

White Birch Case-bearer

Coleophora betulella Heinemann, 1877. Schmett. Deutsch Schweiz.: 583.

Leaf-miner and case-bearer: Larva mines leaves in autumn. Spring feeding is by grazing, usually on the underside of larger leaves, or feeding on the edges of small leaves. The full-grown case is black, pistol-shaped, 7 mm long (British leafminers), rather like the closely related C. ibipennella, which feeds on oak. Indeed, at one time they were believed to be conspecific (UKMoths).

Prior to hibernation the young larva makes full depth mines; in spring window feeding takes place. In its final stage the larva lives in a matt pistol case about 7 mm in length, that with a mouth angle of 30°-45° is standing obliquely on the leaf (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The case is also illustrated in the Encyclopedia of Life.

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).

Described by Suire (1961a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

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. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Betula       British leafminers
Betula       Pitkin & Plant
Betula       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula       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: Late August to October, feeding again from April to May or early June (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: June and July (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Distributed thinly in England and Wales as far north as Cumbria, and occupies heathy habitats where the foodplant grows (UKMoths); including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Dorset, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Leicestershire, Middlesex, North Hampsire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, West Gloucestershire, West Norfolk and West Sussex (NBN Atlas).

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

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

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula pendula, Betula pubescens

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Dolichogenidea breviventris (Ratzeburg, 1848) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Apophua bipunctoria (Thunberg 1822) Ichneumonidae: Banchinae
Bathythrix thomsoni (Kerrich, 1942) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Gelis areator (Panzer, 1804) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae

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