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


Phyllonorycter ulmifoliella (Hübner, 1817)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Red Birch Midget

Tinea ulmifoliella Hübner, 1817. Samml. Europ. Schmett.: fig. 444.
Phyllonorycter ulmifoliella
(Hübner, 1817).

Leaf-miner: The larva forms a blotch mine on the underside of a leaf, often quite small, but puckering the leaf noticeably (UKMoths).

The mine is 10-15 mm long, 1-6 creases in lower epidermis (British leafminers).

Small lower surface tentiform mine; the lower epidermis is greenish yellow and weakly folded. Pupation within the mine in a cocoon that in the summer generation is so flimsy that sometimes it seems to be missing, while in the autumn generation it is quite tough. All frass in a corner of the mine (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).

Whtish, with an orange-yellow spot dorsally on the sixth abdominal segment. See Grandi (1931a, 1933a) for a description of the morphology (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Phyllonorycter ulmifoliella pupa,  cremaster,  dorsal
Phyllonorycter ulmifoliella pupa, cremaster, dorsal
Image: © Willem Ellis (Bladmineerders van Europa)

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

The pupa is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa.

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

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Betula       British leafminers
Betula       Pitkin & Plant
Betula       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula       Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula grossa     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula x intermedia     Bladmineerders van Europa, as Betula x alpestris
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

Time of year - larvae: July, September - October (British leafminers; UKMoths).

Time of year - adults: Two generations, with adults flying in May and again in August (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: This species can be found almost anywhere where the foodplant, birch (Betula) is present. Common throughout the British Isles (UKMoths) including Anglesey, Banffshire, Bedfordshire, Berwickshire, Breconshire, Buckinghamshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Denbighshire, Derbyshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Gloucestershire, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Ross, East Suffolk, East Sussex, East Sutherland, Easterness, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Haddington, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Kincardineshire, Kirkudbrightshire, Leicestershire, Linlithgow, Main Argyll, Merionethshire, Mid Perthshire, Mid-west Yorkshire, Middlesex, North Aberdeenshire, North Ebudes, North Essex, North Hampshire, North Northumberland, North Somerset, North Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Devon, South Hampshire, South Lancashire, South Northumberland, South Somerset, South Wiltshire, South-east Yorkshire, South West Yorkshire, Stafford, Surrey, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Lancashire, West Norfolk, West Perthshire, West Suffolk, Westmorland and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

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, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia Central, East, North, Northwest and South, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine. Also recorded in East Palaearctic and Near East (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Betula x intermedia

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Achrysocharoides atys (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Achrysocharoides niveipes (Thomson, 1878) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis laomedon (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis nephereus (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis phryne (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Pediobius alcaeus (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Cirrospilus diallus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Cirrospilus vittatus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Sympiesis gordius (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Minotetrastichus platanellus (Mercet, 1922) Eulophidae: Tetrastichinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Coloneura stylata Förster, 1862 Braconidae: Alysiinae
Colastes braconius Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Exothecinae
Pholetesor circumscriptus (Nees, 1834) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Pholetesor nanus (Reinhard, 1880) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Rhysipolis decorator (Haliday, 1836) Braconidae: Rhysipolinae
Diadegma armillatum (Gravenhorst, 1829) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Diadegma lithocolletis Horstmann, 1969 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
Diadegma nanus (Gravenhorst, 1829) Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae
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
Find images using Google

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Last updated 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page