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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Elachista subalbidella Schläger, 1847
[Lepidoptera: Elachistidae]

Buff Dwarf

Elachista subalbidella Schläger, 1847.

Leaf-miner: The larva creates a long narrow mine in the blade (UKMoths).

Mine fairly translucent. It starts as a narrow corridor, running towards the leaf tip, but this almost invariably is overrun be a later, broad, descending corridor. The centre of the mine contains a vertical tube made of loose silk, in which the larva can quickly move up or down, and in which also most frass gets trapped. The sides of the mine are smooth (contrary to E. gangabella). Mines are difficult to find, because the leaves are wilting when larvae are present (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).

Dark olive green (greyish black while hibernating). Head and prothoracic plate black. Each thorax segment dorsally with a pair of roundish or crescent shaped light spots (Steuer, 1973a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Pupa: The pupae of moths have visible head appendages, wings and legs which lie in sheaths (see examples).

See Patocka (1999a), Patocka and Turcani (2005a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths. The species is included in

Elachsita subalbidella

Adult of Elachista subalbidella
Luffenham Heath Golf Course, Rutland, Leics
Image: © Andy Mackay (UKMoths)

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Molinia caerulea Purple Moor-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Molinia caerulea Purple Moor-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Carex       Bladmineerders van Europa
Arrhenatherum       Bladmineerders van Europa
Brachypodium pinnatum Heath False-brome   Bladmineerders van Europa
Brachypodium sylvaticum False Brome British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Calamagrostis arundinacea     Bladmineerders van Europa
Melica       Bladmineerders van Europa
Molinia caerulea Purple Moor-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Poa       Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: Larvae in autumn; in October they are full grown, but they leave their mine only just before pupation, in early spring (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Time of year - adults: The adults tend to fly during June (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Widely distributed on moors and heaths over much of Britain (UKMoths) including Caernarvonshire, Glamorgan, Merionethshire, Monmouthshire, North Ebudes, Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, South Wiltshire, Stafford and Westmorland (NBN Atlas).

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea). See also Ireland's NBDC interactive map.

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

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Brachypodium pinnatum, Brachypodium sylvaticum

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-Apr-2018  Brian Pitkin Top of page