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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Ectoedemia spinosella (Joannis, 1908)
[Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae]

Blackthorn Pigmy

Nepticula spinosella
Joannis, 1908 . Bull Soc. ent. Fr. 1907: 328.
Ectoedemia spinosella
(Joannis, 1908).

Leaf miner: Makes an irregular blotch mine. The initial frass-filled gallery is very contorted (as shown. This distinguishes it from the mines of S.plagicolella, which have the initial gallery long and sinuous, with linear frass). It then makes an irregular gallery with clear margins and linear frass. Finally there is a small clear blotch, with the frass in a heap at the mouth of the gallery. The larva feeds with its ventral surface uppermost (British leafminers).

Egg at the underside of the leaf, usually near the midrib, sometimes a side vein or the leaf margin. The first part of the mine is a narrow gallery, almost completely filled with reddish frass; the corridor is strongly contorted, almost forming a secondary blotch. The continuation is somewhat less contorted, and here the frass leaves clear margins. Finally the corridor widens into a rather small elongate blotch, where much of the copious frass is compacted in the basal section. The mine is compressed in a limited space, and the final blotch often obliterates earlier parts of the mine (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Mine of Ectoedemia spinosella on Prunus spinosa
Mine of Ectoedemia spinosella on Prunus spinosa
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).

Pale white. Described by Gustafsson and van Nieukerken (1990a) (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 not illustrated in UKMoths (check for update). The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Prunus spinosa Blackthorn British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Prunus cerasifera Cherry Plum British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Prunus domestica Wild Plum British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Prunus dulcis Almond   Bladmineerders van Europa
Prunus fruticosa     Bladmineerders van Europa
Prunus spinosa Blackthorn British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Prunus webbii     Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: End of June - end of October (Bladmineerders van Europa)

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

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

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Bulgaria, Corsica, Croatia, Czech Republic, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - South, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine. Also recorded in the East Palaearctic and Near East (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Prunus cerasifera, Prunus domestica, Prunus dulcis, Prunus spinosa

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Chrysocharis prodice (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Cirrospilus vittatus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Adelius subfasciatus Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Cheloninae

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 17-Apr-2018  Brian Pitkin Top of page