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


Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller, 1873)
[Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae]

Potato Tuber Moth

Gelechia operculella Zeller, 1873. Verhandl. zool.-bot. Ges. Wien. 23: 262, t. 3 fig. 17.
Phthorimaea operculella
(Zeller, 1873).

Leaf-miner: Large, glassy, irregular blotches without a recognisable preceding corridor. Frass in a black mass, mainly in the oldest part of the mine. The larvae move several times, and can also bore in the stem and underground parts (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Mine of Phthorimaea operculella on Solanum nigrum
Mine of Phthorimaea operculella on Solanum nigrum
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).

Greyish green with very faint pink patches in indistinct lines. Head, prothoracic plate and feet blackish brown; anal plate concolorous with body. See also Gómez de Aizpúrua (2003a) and Stehr (1987a) (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 adult is illustrated in the Encyclopedia of Life. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Solanum tuberosum Potato   Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Hyoscyamus albus White Henbane   Bladmineerders van Europa
Lycopersicon esculentum Tomato British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Lycopersicon esculentum Tomato British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Nicotiana glauca     Bladmineerders van Europa
Nicotiana tabacum Tobacco   Bladmineerders van Europa
Solanum dulcamara Bittersweet / Woody Nightshade British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Solanum villosum Red Nightshade  

Bladmineerders van Europa, as Solanum luteum

Solanum melongena Aubergine   Bladmineerders van Europa
Solanum nigrum Black Nightshade British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Solanum tuberosum Potato   Belgian Lepidoptera
Solanum tuberosum Potato   Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: July - September (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Britain including Hertfordshire and Shetland (NBN Atlas)

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Azores, Balearic Is., Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Corsica, Crete, Croatia, Cyclades Is., Cyprus, Czech Republic, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Macedonia, Madeira, Malta, North Aegean Is., Portuguese mainland, Romania, Russia - South, Sardinia, Sicily, Spanish mainland, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Hyoscyamus albus, Lycopersicon esculentum, Nicotiana tabacum, Solanum dulcamara, Solanum nigrum, Solanum tuberosum, Solanum villosum

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Elachertus fenestratus Nees, 1834 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Sympiesis notata (Zetterstedt, 1838) Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Dibrachys microgastri (Bouché, 1834) Pteromalidae: Pteromalinae
Trichomalopsis albopilosus (Graham, 1969) Pteromalidae: Pteromalinae
Trichogramma evanescens Westwood, 1833 Trichogrammatidae: Trichogrammatinae
Trichogramma semblidis (Aurivillius, 1891) Trichogrammatidae: Trichogrammatinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Bracon hebetor Say, 1836 Braconidae: Braconinae
Bracon instabilis Marshall, 1897 Braconidae: Braconinae
Chelonus contractus (Nees, 1816) Braconidae: Cheloninae
Chelonus depressus Thomson, 1874 Braconidae: Cheloninae
Homolobus truncator (Say, 1828) Braconidae: Homolobinae
Cotesia ruficrus (Haliday, 1834) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Dolichogenidea appellator (Telenga, 1949) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Apanteles carpatus (Say, 1836) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Orgilus pimpinellae Niezabitowski, 1910 Braconidae: Orgilinae
Campoplex tumidulus Gravenhorst, 1829 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Diadegma fenestrale (Holmgren, 1860) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Venturia canescens (Gravenhorst, 1829) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Pristomerus vulnerator (Panzer, 1799) Ichneumonidae: Cremastinae
Scambus calobatus (Gravenhorst, 1829) 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

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Last updated 18-Oct-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page