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


Eriocrania semipurpurella (Stephens, 1835)
[Lepidoptera: Eriocraniidae]

Early Purple

Lampronia semipurpurella Stephens, 1835. Ill. Brit. Ent. 4: 359.
Eriocrania semipurpurella
(Stephens, 1835).

Leaf-miner: The larva mines in a birch leaf, forming a large blotch (UKMoths) starting at or near the leaf edge and then widens into a blotch (British leafminers).

Oviposition a few mm from the leaf margin; here begins a corridor of some mm, filled with granular frass. This corridor suddenly widens into a large full depth white bloth, with frass in long threads. The blotch remains adjacent to the leaf margin, and often engulfs the initial corridor. Almost always one larva in the mine (unless by coalescence of two mines). Pupation external. Older mines wither and desintegrate, and cannot be found later in the summer (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The mine is also illustrated in the Encyclopedia of Life.

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 larvae are white or yellowish (UKMoths) and is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa and the Encyclopedia of Life.

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:

Betula       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula       Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula pendula Silver Birch   Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula pubescens Downy Birch   Bladmineerders van Europa

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

Time of year - adults: The adults fly in March and April, especially in sunshine (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: The commonest and most widespread of the Eriocrania species that feed on birch, occurring throughout most of Britain (UKMoths) including Banffshire, Bedfordshire, Breconshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Denbighshire, Dorset, Dunbartonshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Kent, East Suffolk, East Sutherland, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Haddington, Huntingdonsire, Isle of Wight, Kincardineshire, Linlithgow, Main Arygyll, Merionethshire, North Aberdeenshire, North Hampshire, North Northumberland, North Somerset, Nottinghamshire, Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Hampshire, South Northumberland, South Wiltshire, Stafford, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire. West Norfolk, West Perthshire, West Suffolk, Westmorland and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

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, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, North and South, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula pendula, Betula pubescens

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Closterocerus trifasciatus Westwood, 1833 Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Cirrospilus lyncus Walker, 1841 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Shawiana catenator (Haliday, 1836) Braconidae: Exothecinae
Lathrolestes clypeatus (Zetterstedt, 1838) Ichneumonidae: Euryproctinae
Grypocentrus basalis Ruthe, 1855 Ichneumonidae: Tryphoniinae

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 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page