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 ruficapitella (Haworth, 1828)
[Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae]

Red-headed Pigmy

Tinea ruficapitella Haworth, 1828. Lep. Brit.: 586.
Stigmella ruficapitella
(Haworth, 1828).

Leaf-miner: A short gallery, frass dispersed in later part of mine (British leafminers).

Oviposition mostly at the upperside of the leaf, generally not far from the leaf margin. Mine an initially narrow corridor with a thin frass line, soon widening into a fairly long, broad corridor with a largely broad frass line; locally the frass may be coiled. Often the first part of the mine follows the leaf margin, entering the centre of the leaf after a hairpin turn (Bladmineerders van Europa).

It is recommended that you try to rear out the adults to be certain of their identity.

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 whitish-yellow, head pale brown (British leafminers).

Yellow, head light brown (Borkowski, 1972b); Gustafsson and van Nieukerken (1990a) give a detailed 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 illustrated in UKMoths. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Quercus       British leafminers
Quercus       UKMoths
Quercus petraea Sessile Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Quercus robur Pedunculate Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Quercus cerris Turkey Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus petraea Sessile Oak British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus pubescens Downy Oak   Bladmineerders van Europa
Quercus robur Pedunculate Oak 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 from May to June and in July and August (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: The commonest of a complex of similar species which have oak as a foodplant (UKMoths) recorded in Anglesey, Banffshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Carmarthenshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, East Sutherland, Easterness, Elgin, Glamorgan, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Kincardineshire, Mid-west Yorkshire, Middlesex, North Devon, North Essex, North Hampshire, North Somerset, North Wiltshire, North-west Yorkshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Essex, South Hampshire, South Lancashire, South Wiltshire, South-east Yorkshire, Stafford, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Kent, West Lancashire, West Norfolk, West Suffolk, Westmorland 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, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Russia - Central, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Quercus cerris, Quercus petraea, Quercus pubescens, Quercus robur

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Chrysocharis acoris (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis budensis Erdös, 1954 Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis prodice (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Derostenus gemmeus Westwood, 1840 Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Derostenus punctiscuta Thomson, 1878 Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Cirrospilus diallus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Cirrospilus vittatus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Platyplectrus laeviscuta (Thomson, 1878) Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Seladerma aeneum (Walker, 1833) Pteromalidae: Miscogastrinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Coloneura stylata Förster, 1862 Braconidae: Alysiinae
Adelius subfasciatus Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Cheloninae
Adelius erythronotus (Förster, 1851) Braconidae: Cheloninae
Colastes braconius Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Exothecinae
Gnamptodon pumilio (Nees, 1834) Braconidae: Gnamptodontinae

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 12-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page