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


Cosmopterix lienigiella Zeller, 1846
[Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae]

Fen Cosmet

Cosmopterix lienigiella Zeller, 1846. Isis 39: 298.

Leaf-miner: Makes an elongate mine with frass heaped at the start and then dispersed thoughout. It does not make a silken shelter and so may be seen in the mine (British leafminers).

At first a gallery, but soon widened to a broad blotch, entirely or partly running upwards, in the end half as wide as the leaf. The mine is widened without consideration for the length veins, making the mine less sharply delineated than in C. scribaiella. Most frass in the first section, but higher up still some scattered frass visible. Unlike C. scribaiella the larva does not spin a shelter for retreat in the mine; this makes the larva easily visible in the unopened mine. Cocoon in the top section of the mine. The pupa lies head-upwards, just below an opening that has been prepared as an exit for the later moth (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Mine of Cosmopterix lienigiella on Phragmites australis
Mine of Cosmopterix lienigiella on Phragmites australis
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).

The larva is illustrated in 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 by Alan Drewitt. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Phragmites australis
Common Reed British Wild Life British leafminers
Phragmites australis
Common Reed British Wild Life Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Phragmites       Belgian Lepidoptera
Phragmites australis Common Reed British Wild Life Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: September-April (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Britain including Cambridgeshire, Dorset, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, North Essex, North Hampshire, North Somerset, South Devon, South Essex, South Hampshire and West Norfolk (NBN Atlas). See also British leafminers distribution map.

Found in large reed beds in fresh and brackish water. found in Southern England and Norfolk and Suffolk (British leafminers).

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

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Phragmites australis

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 16-Oct-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page