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


Elachista alpinella Stainton, 1854
[Lepidoptera: Elachistidae]

Marsh Dwarf

Elachista alpinella Stainton, 1854.

Leaf-miner: The narrow mine begins a few cm below the tip of the leaf and runs downwards, sometimes along the leaf margin, sometimes in the center of the leaf. After hibernation the larva probably begins a new, similar mine, that becomes quite long, ending near the leaf base. Frass in a brown, regularly interrupted line. Pupation external; pupa attached to the leaf, not in a cocoon (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).

Yellowish white, head shining light brown; the prothoracic shield consists of two greyish, triangular, widely separated sclerites. Their shape and position is species-specific; see Steurer (1973a) for an illustration (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. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Carex       Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Carex acuta Slender Tufted-sedge British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Carex acutiformis Lesser Pond-sedge British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Carex paniculata Greater Tussock-sedge British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Carex riparia Greater Pond-sedge British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: September - July; larva overwinters in the mine (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Britain including Bedfordshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Dunbartonshire, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Kincardineshire, Kirkudbrightshire, North Aberdeenshire, North Ebudes, North Essex, North Hampshire, Outer Hebrides, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, Stafford, West Norfolk, West Perthshire, West Suffolk, West Sutherland, Wigtownshire and Shetland (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, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Russia - Central, North and Northwest, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Carex acuta, Carex acutiformis, Carex paniculata, Carex riparia

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 17-Oct-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page