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


Prays fraxinella (Bjerkander, 1784)
[Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae]

Ash Bud Moth

Tinea fraxinella Bjerkander, 1784. K. Vet. Akad. Nya. Handl. 5: 324.
Prays fraxinella
(Bjerkander, 1784).

Leaf-miner: As a smaller larva it mines a leaf, but feeds on the buds of ash in its later stages (UKMoths).

In late autumn the larvae make an irregular small corridor with dispersed black frass. Often the corridor widens in the end into an irregular blotch with much less frass. The mine may begin at an egg shell (lower picture), but the larvae can leave their mine an start a new one elsewhere in the leaf; in that case the corridor begins with a small round opening. Before the leaf is shed the larva leaves the mine and bores into the bark, where it hibernates. After hibernation they live as shoot borer, of free among spun leaves (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The larva mines the bark of a twig and overwinters in this. In spring it bores out the terminal shoot - causing it to droop (British leafminers).

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 yellowish, with a black prothoracic and anal plate (British leafminers). The larva is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa.

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

Illustrated and described by Patočka (1997a), Patočka and Turčáni (2005a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

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

Comments: The species is also reported from Daphne, but is is not really clear whether this concerns a regular relationship.

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Fraxinus excelsior Ash British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers
Fraxinus excelsior Ash British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Fraxinus       Belgian Lepidoptera
Fraxinus excelsior Ash British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Fraxinus ornus Manna Ash British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
? Daphne       Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: October - June (British leafminers); October (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Time of year - adults: The adult is on the wing from June to July, although a plainer, darker form is often found into August (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: A common species over much of Britain (UKMoths) including Anglesey, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Breconshire, Buckinghamshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Cumberland, Denbighshire, Derbyshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Dunbartonshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Gloucestershire, East Norfolk, East Ross, East Suffolk, Easterness, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kincardineshire, Kirkudbrightshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire, North Aberdeenshire, North Devon, North Somerset, South Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Pembrokeshire, Radnorshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Devon, South Lancashire, South-east Yorkshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Lancashire, West Norfolk,Wesdt Perthshire, West Suffolk, Westmorland, Wigtownshire, and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas), and the Channel Is. (Fauna Europaea).

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 Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Italian mainland, Kaliningrad Region, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Portuguese mainland, Romania, Russia - Central, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Fraxinus excelsior, Fraxinus ornus

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Dolichogenidea dilecta (Haliday, 1834) Braconidae: Microgastrinae

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