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


Stigmella continuella (Stainton, 1856)
[Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae]

Double-barred Pigmy

Nepticula continuella Stainton, 1856. Entomol. Ann.: 42.
Stigmella continuella
(Stainton, 1856).

Leaf-miner: The mine starts from brown spot, later filled with greenish frass. The mine is difficult to locate initially but becomes brown as it ages (British leafminers).

Egg at the underside, often in a vein axil. The mine is a slender, little widening corridor. Its first part is strongly contorted; the leaf tissue that is cut off thereby is killed, mostly resulting in a brown spot. The remainder of the corridor in contrast is very little contorted, often remarkably straight, when it runs alongside a vein. The corridor is almost completely filled with coiled frass, that is green when fresh, brown later. Pupation external (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 yellow but appears green in mine (British leafminers).

The larva is yellow, but appears green when inside the mine. See Gustafsson and van Nieukerken (1990a) for a description (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 species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Betula       British leafminers
Betula       Pitkin & Plant
Betula       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula       Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula nana Dwarf Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
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. Bladmineerders van Europa

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

Time of year - adults: On the wing in May and August (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Occurring in southern and north-west England (UKMoths) including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Glamorgan, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Monmouthshire, North Essex, North Hampshire, North Somerset, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, South Lancashire, South Wiltshire, Stafford, Surrey, West Kent, West Norfolk, West Suffolk 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, Belgium, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Russia Central, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine. Also recorded in East Palaearctic (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula nana, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere: Currently unknown.

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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