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


Xenolechia aethiops (Humphreys & Westwood, 1845)
[Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae]

Moorland Groundling

Anacampsis aethiops Humphreys & Westwood, 1845. Brit. Moths 2: 151, t. 107 fig. 13.
Gelechia squamulella
Peyerimhoff, 1871. Mitt. Schweiz. ent. Ges. 3: 412.
Xenolechia aethiops
(Humphreys and Westwood, 1845).

Leaf-miner: Only the very youngest larvae make mines, and it is not well known how these look like: probably small full depth mines. The older larva make a tunnel of silk on a twig, mixed with frass and leaf fragments, and feeds from there on the leaves. (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).

Larva dull reddish with intersegmental zones greenish; head brown, prothoracic and anal plates black; pinacula small, black (Bland et al., 2002a) (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 by Paul Brooks. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Erica cinerea Bell Heather British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Erica cinerea Bell Heather British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: June - July (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Britain including Berkshire, Cumberland, Denbighshire, Dunbartonshire, Durham, East Sussex, Easterness, Flintshire, Haddington, Linlithgow, Monmouthshire, North Northumberland, North-east Yorkshire, Shropshire, North-west Yorkshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Devon, South Northumberland, South Somerset, Stafford and Westmorland (NBN Atlas).

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland (Fauna Europaea and National Biodiversity Data Centre Map).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Corsica, Danish mainland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, ? Hungary, Italian mainland, Macedonia, Portuguese mainland, Sardinia, Spanish mainland and The Netherlands (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Erica cinerea

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 20-Oct-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page