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

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Coleophora vitisella Gregson, 1856
[Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae]

Northern Case-bearer

Coleophora vitisella Gregson, 1856. Zoologist 14: 5167.

Leaf-miner and case-bearer: The fully developed larval case, 6 mm long, on cowberry, in April and May of its second year of life, is easily identified by its structure of about forty discs of leaf arranged like a pile of coins, its walking stick shape and the ventral keel of white silk. Each larva makes a large number of small full depth mines, which can be recognised by the relatively large hole where a disc of leaf has been excised for the case (UKMoths).

Feeds on mature leaves and has a two year life cycle. It cuts oval blotches from the leaf and adds them, as rings, to the case. By the end of the first year the case is bent double and almost touches the leaf. The feeding resumes the next spring and further discs are added. The final case is shaped like a walking stick and is 5-6mm long (British leafminers).

Greyish black tubular composite leaf case of about 5-6 mm. The case is composed of numerous rings, each cut out of the lower epidermis of the hostplant. The rear end is stromgly curved, like the handle of a walking stick. Mouth angle 45° (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. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Vaccinium vitis-idaea Cowberry British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Cowberry British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Cowberry British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers

Hosts elsewhere:

Vaccinium vitis-idaea Cowberry British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Pyrola       Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: September-April (Emmet et al., 1996a).

Time of year - adults: Late May to early July (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Occurs on the more sheltered parts of moors and Scots pine woodland in the Highlands of Scotland, the Pennine Hills and the Clwyd Hills (UKMoths) including Cheshire, Derbyshire, Easterness, Flintshire, Kincardineshire, Pembrokeshire, South Aberdeen and Stafford (NBN Atlas).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - North, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Vaccinium vitis-idaea

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 15-Apr-2018  Brian Pitkin Top of page