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 sakhalinella Puplesis, 1984
[Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae]

Small Birch Pigmy

Stigmella sakhalinella Puplesis, 1984.
Stigmella discidia
Schoorl and Wilkinson, 1986.

Leaf-miner: The frass is brown and in arcs, with narrow clear margins (unlike Stigmella continuella where the green frass completely fills the gallery) (British leafminers).

Oviposition on the underside of the leaf. Then a rather slender gallery, hardly widening, even towards the end. The corridor is not strongly contorted, not even in its first section; no browned spot in the leaf at the start of the mine. Sides of the corridor irregularly scalloped. The corridor mostly begins close to the leaf margin, often near the tip of the leaf. The coiled frass is brown or black, even in fresh mines; the frass fills most of the width of the corridor, but always leaves a transparent zone at either side. Pupation external; exit slit in the upper epidermis (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, brown head, and dark ventral spots (British leafminers).

Yellow; described by Gustafsson and van Nieukerken (1990a) (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

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula       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. Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula utilis     Bladmineerders van Europa

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

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Widespread in the southern half of England including Dorset, Durham, East Cornwall, East Gloucestershire, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Glamorgan, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Middlesex, North Essex, North Somerset, Stafford, South Wiltshire, Stafford, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Kent, West Suffolk and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, French mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Russia - Central, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Yugoslavia. Also recorded in East Palaearctic (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Betula utilis

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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Last updated 08-Jun-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page