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 ibipennella Zeller, 1849
[Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae]

Forest Case-bearer

Coleophora ibipennella Zeller, 1849. Linn. ent. 4: 285
Coleophora ardeaepennella Scott, 1861
Coleophora alba Toll, 1952. Bull. Soc. ent. Mulhouse 28: fig'd
Coleophora peralba Toll, 1954. Mem. Soc. ent. ital. 32: 102, fig'd.

Leaf-miner and case-bearer: The larva builds a distinctive 'pistol-case' with a 'handle' of pale greyish silk (UKMoths).

The full grown larva in a black pistol case of 7 mm long. The mouth angle is c. 80°. From the rear end a grey silken cloak (pallium) hangs down to almost halfway the mouth (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The case is also illustrated in the Encyclopedia of Life.

Case of Coleophora ibipennella on Quercus robur
Case of Coleophora ibipennella on Quercus robur
Image: © Willem Ellis (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).

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:

Quercus       British leafminers
Quercus       Pitkin & Plant
Quercus       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Quercus       Belgian Lepidoptera
Quercus petreae     Belgian Lepidoptera
Quercus pubescens Downy Oak   Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus robur Pedunculate Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Quercus robur Pedunculate Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: September to October, feeding again from April to May or mid-June (British leafminers).

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

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Widespread in England, including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, East Gloucestershire, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntiingdonshire, Middlesex, North Hampshire, North Somerset, Shropshire, South Essex, South Hampshire, South-west Yorkshire, Surrey, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Norfolk, West Suffolk and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

Confusion over its distribution is compounded by the fact that this species was formerly known as Coleophora ardeaepennella and the fact that Coleophora betullela on Betula has been misidentified as Coleophora ibipennella (UKMoths).

Also recorded from the Republic of Ireland. See National Biodiversity Data Centre Map).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Portuguese mainland, Romania, Russia - South, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Yugoslavia. Also recorded in Near East and North Afroca (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Quercus pubescens, Quercus robur

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Bracon variegator Spinola, 1808 Braconidae: Braconinae
Macrocentrus linearis (Nees, 1811) Braconidae: Macrocentrinae
Dolichogenidea coleophorae (Wilkinson, 1938) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Orgilus rugosus (Nees, 1834) Braconidae: Orgilinae
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