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


Dyseriocrania subpurpurella (Haworth, 1828)
[Lepidoptera: Eriocraniidae]

Common Oak Purple

Tinea subpurpurella Haworth, 1828. Lep. Brit.: 571
Micropteryx fastuosella Zeller, 1839. Isis: 185
Eriocrania subpurpurella (Haworth, 1828)
Dyseriocrania subpurpurella
(Haworth, 1828).

Leaf-miner: Blotch mine, frass in long threads. The mine can be confused with that of the beetle Orchestes pilosus, but the mine of O. pilosus is darker and smaller when mature. The frass of E.subpurella is also typically 'spaghetti' like in appearance (British leafminers, as Eriocrania).

Oviposition within the leaf tissue, some 2 mm away from the leaf margin. The mine begins as a narrow corridor of c. 5 mm, largely filled with granular frass. This corridor abruptly widens into a large, dirty-whitish, full depth blotch that lies against the leaf margin and usually runs over the previous corridor. Frass here in long threads. Often several larvae in a mine after fusion of the original solitary mines. When the mines are made the foliage still is very tender, and the mines quickly wither away; they cannot be found later in summer. Probably for he same reason the oviposition site almost always is a small hole. Pupation in the ground (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The mine is also illustrated in UKMoths (as Eriocrania subpurpurella).

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).Larva white, head pale brown (British leafminers, as Eriocrania subpurpurella). The larva is also 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 (as Eriocrania subpurpurella). The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Quercus       British leafminers (as Eriocrania subpurpurella)
Quercus       UKMoths (as Eriocrania subpurpurella)

Hosts elsewhere:

Castanea sativa Sweet Chestnut British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus       Belgian Lepidoptera
Quercus cerris Turkey Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus petraea Sessile Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus pubescens Downy Oak   Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus pyrenaica Pyrenean Oak   Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus robur Pedunculate Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus rubra Red Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: May - June (British leafminers, as Eriocrania).

Time of year - adults: This species is quite an early flyer, being on the wing in April and May, and despite being generally diurnal, is often found in light-traps at night (UKMoths (as Eriocrania subpurpurella).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Common throughout the whole of Britain except the very north of Scotland (UKMoths, as Eriocrania) including Anglesey, Bedfordshire, Breconshire, Buckinghamshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Dunbartonshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Ross, East Suffolk, East Sussex, East Sutherland, Elgin, Flintshire, Forfar, Glamorgan, Haddington, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Kincardineshire, Leicestershire, Linlithgow, Merionethshire, Mid-west Yorkshire, Middlesex, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire, North Aberdeenshire, North Devon, North Essex, North Hampshire, North Lancashire, North Northumberland, North Somerset, North Wiltshire, North-east Yorkshire, North-west Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Devon, South Essex, South Hampshire, South Lancashire, South Northumberland, South Wiltshire, South-east Yorkshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, Stirlingshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Lancashire, West Norfolk, West Ross, West Suffolk, Westmorland, Wigtownshire and Worcestershire (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 Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Portuguese mainland, Romania, Russia - Central and East, Sicily, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Castanea sativa, Quercus cerris, Quercus petraea, Quercus pubescens, Quercus pyrenaica, Quercus robur, Quercus rubra

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Cirrospilus vittatus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Coloneura stylata Förster, 1862 Braconidae: Alysiinae
Colastes braconius Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Exothecinae

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, as Eriocrania subpurpurella

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Last updated 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page