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


Parornix betulae (Stainton, 1854)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Brown Birch Slender

Ornix betulae Stainton, 1854. Ins. Brit. 3: 205.
Parornix betulae
(Stainton, 1854).

Leaf-miner: A small Phyllonorycter-like mine initially, but with brown rather than green lower epidermis. Later in one or more successive cones formed by folding downwards the edge or tip of a leaf (British leafminers).

The mine begins as an inconspicuous lower surface corridor, mainly recognisable by its brown line of frass. In the next larval stage a lower-surface blotch is made, that soon develops into a tentiform mine; its epidermis turns brown. Frass in a clump in a corner of the mine. After leaving the mine the larva continues feeding in a downwards folded leaf margin, that is fixed with silk (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).

The larva is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa.

Parornix betulae larva,  lateral
Parornix betulae larva, lateral
Image: © Willem Ellis (Bladmineerders van Europa)

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

In folded leaf-edge (British leafminers).

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths and the Encyclopedia of Life. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Betula       British leafminers
Betula       Pitkin & Plant
Betula       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula alleghaniensis     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula grossa     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula humilis     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula obscura     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula papyrifera Paper Birch   Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula pendula Silver Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula pendula Silver Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula pubescens Downy Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula pubescens Downy Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula nana Dwarf Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula utilis     Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: June, September-October (British leafminers) and are commonest on birch seedlings (UKMoths).

Time of year - adults: The adults fly in May and August (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Common throughout the British Isles, in heaths and open woodland (UKMoths) including Anglesey, Banffshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Dorset, Dumfireshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Gloucestershire, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Ross, East Suffolk, East Sussex, Easterness, Glamorgan, Herefordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Kirkudbrightshire, Leicestershire, Linlithgow, Merionethshire, Middlesex, Montgomeryshire, North Essex, North Hampshire, North Northumberland, North Somerset, North Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Northumberland, South Wiltshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, Stirlingshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Norfolk, West Perthshire, West Ross, West Suffolk, West Sussex, Westerness, Westmorland and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (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, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, East, North, Northwest and South, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine, Also recorded in East Palaearctic (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula nana, Betula papyrifera, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Betula utilis

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Coloneura stylata Förster, 1862 Braconidae: Alysiinae
Colastes braconius Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Exothecinae
Apanteles xanthostigma (Haliday, 1834) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Rhysipolis hariolator (Haliday, 1836) Braconidae: Rhysipolinae
Scambus inanis (Schrank, 1802) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae

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
Find using Google
Find using Google Scholar
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Last updated 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page