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 maritimella Newman, 1873
[Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae]

Sea-rush Case-bearer

Coleophora maritimella Newman, 1873. Entomologist 6: 567.

Seed-feeder and case-bearer: The larva can be found on Juncus maritimus seedheads, both standing and prone on the ground. The larval case, made from a hollowed seed of the foodplant, is well camouflaged and easily overlooked. Records should not be made purely on the basis of feeding holes, as C. glaucicolella, another species often abundant on saltings, makes similar holes in Juncus maritimus. Care is needed in the identification of the foodplant, especially when dealing with dead seedheads, as the similar Juncus gerardii supports larvae of C. adjunctella feeding on seeds in the same manner (UKMoths).

The case is illustrated in British leafminers and 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).

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

Pupation is on a plant stem in May and June (UKMoths).

Adult: The adult is not illustrated in UKMoths (check for update). The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Juncus maritimus Sea Rush British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers
Juncus maritimus Sea Rush British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Juncus maritimus Sea Rush British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera

Time of year - larvae: September to May (UKMoths and British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: The adult flies from late June to early August at night and at sunrise. It comes to light, sometimes at a distance from the coast (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: This species is widespread on English and Welsh coastal saltings where Sea rush (Juncus maritimus) grows. It has also been recorded on the Firth of Forth (UKMoths); Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Dorset, East Cornwall, East Suffolk, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Haddington, Isle of Wight, Kirkudbrightshire, North Somerset, Pembrokeshire, West Cornwall, and West Norfolk (NBN Atlas).

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 Albania, Bulgaria, Crete, Croatia, Cyprus, Danish mainland, French mainland, Greek mainland, Italian mainland, North Aegean Is., Portuguese mainland, Sardinia, Sicily, Spanish mainland, Sweden and The Netherlands. Also recorded in Near East and North Africa (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Juncus maritimus

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere: Currently unknown.

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 26-Jun-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page