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

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Elachista argentella (Clerck, 1759)
[Lepidoptera: Elachistidae]

Swan-feather Dwarf


Phalaena argentella Clerck, 1759. Icones: 11.
Elachista argentella
(Clerck, 1759)
Elachista habeleri Traugott-Olsen, 1990.


Leaf-miner: A small narrow mine on a wide variety of grasses. In the spring the larva changes leaves and mines tip downwards. The mine fills the leaf width. The frass is packed in the top of the mine (British leafminers).

In autumn the larva makes a narrow corridor a few cm in length, in which it hibernates. In March it moves to a new leaf. Here a transparent, full depth mine is made that descends from the leaf tip, and occupies the entire width of the blade. Most frass is concentrated in the oldest, highest, part of the mine. The larva may leave its mine and restart elsewhere. Pupation outside the mine (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Mine of Elachista argentella on Dactylis glomerata
Mine of Elachista argentella on Dactylis glomerata
Image: © (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).

Grey green with a faint white dorsal line. Head pale brown; prothoracic shield brown, consisting of 4+4 small plates (Bland, 1996a) (Bladmineerders van Europa). The larva is illustrated in British leafminers.

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

The pupa is illustrated in British leafminers.

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths and the Encyclopedia of Life. The male and female genitalia are illustrated bt the Lepidoptera Dissection Group.

Hosts in Great Britain & Ireland:

Poaceae        
Dactylis glomerata Cock's-foot British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers

Hosts elsewhere:

Poaceae        
Agrostis       Bladmineerders van Europa
Avenula pratense Meadow Oat-grass  

Bladmineerders van Europa

Brachypodium pinnatum Heath False-brome   Bladmineerders van Europa
Brachypodium sylvaticum False Brome British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Bromopsis erecta Upright Brome British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al.

Bladmineerders van Europa, as Bromus erectus

Bromus sterilis Barren Brome   Bladmineerders van Europa
Calamagrostis epigejos Wood Small-reed British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Dactylis glomerata Cock's-foot British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Deschampsia cespitosa Tufted Hair-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Elymus hispidus     Bladmineerders van Europa
Elymus repens Common Couch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Festuca ovina Sheep's Fescue British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Festuca rubra Red Fescue British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Festuca trachyphylla Hard Fescue   Bladmineerders van Europa
Festuca valesiaca     Bladmineerders van Europa
Holcus lanatus Yorkshire-fog British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Holcus mollis Creeping Soft-grass   Bladmineerders van Europa
Koeleria grandis     Bladmineerders van Europa
Koeleria macrantha Crested Hair-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al.

Bladmineerders van Europa, as Koeleria cristata

Koeleria macrantha Crested Hair-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al.

Bladmineerders van Europa, as Koeleria glauca

Koeleria macrantha Crested Hair-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Leymus arenarius Lime-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Phalaris arundinacea Reed Canary-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Phleum       Bladmineerders van Europa
Poa pratensis Smooth Meadow-grass British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: Autumn - Spring (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: The adults are on the wing mostly in June and July, and fly from evening onwards, being attracted to light after darkness (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain & Ireland: Common throughout Britain (UKMoths) including Anglesey (VC52), Banffshire (VC94), Bedfordshire (VC30), Breconshire (VC42), Buckinghamshire (VC24), Caernarvonshire (VC49), Cambridgeshire (VC29), Carmarthenshire (VC44), Cheshire (VC58), Cheviotland, Cumberland (VC70), Denbighshire (VC50), Derbyshire (VC57), East Cornwall (VC2), East Gloucestershire (VC33), East Norfolk (VC27), East Ross (VC106), East Suffolk (VC25), Easterness (VC96), Elgin, Glamorganshire (VC41), Herefordshire (VC36), Hertfordshire (VC20), Kincardineshire (VC91), Mid-west Yorkshire (VC64), Middlesex (VC21), North Aberdeenshire (VC93), North Ebudes (VC104), North Essex (VC19), North Somerset (VC6), North Wiltshire (VC7), South Northumberland (VC67), Pembrokeshire (VC45), Radnorshire (VC43), Shropshire (VC40), South Aberdeenshire (VC92), South Devon (VC3), South Essex (VC18), South Lancashire (VC59), South Wiltshire (VC8), Staffordshire (VC39), Surrey (VC17), Warwickshire (VC38), West Cornwall (VC1), West Gloucestershire (VC34), West Kent (VC16), West Lancashire (VC60), West Norfolk (VC28), West Suffolk (VC26) and Westmorland (NBN Gateway), the Channel Is. (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea).

See also British leafminers distribution map. It occurs in grassy habitats (UKMoths).

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea). See also Ireland's NBDC interactive map.

NBN Grid Map:

NBN Grid Map

Elachista argentella
NBN Grid Map : NBN Terms and Conditions

Maps are only displayed if the NBN server is active. N.B. Only publicly available records, if any, are shown by default

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Portuguese mainland, Romania, Russia - Central, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Yugoslavia (Karsholt and van Nieukerken in Fauna Europaea).

NBN Interactive Grid Maps of known host species:

Anisantha sterilis, Brachypodium pinnatum, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Bromopsis erecta, Calamagrostis epigejos, Dactylis glomerata, Deschampsia cespitosa, Elymus repens, Festuca ovina, Festuca rubra, Festuca trachyphylla, Avenula pratensis, Avenula pubescens, Holcus lanatus, Holcus mollis, Koeleria macrantha, Leymus arenarius, Phalaris arundinacea, Poa pratensis

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea  
Diadegma argentellae Horstmann, 2004 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae


External links: Search the internet:

Belgian Lepidoptera
Biodiversity Heritage Library
Bladmineerders van Europa
British leafminers
Encyclopedia of Life
Fauna Europaea
NBN Gateway
NHM UK Checklist
UKMoths

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Last updated 21-Jul-2016  Brian Pitkin Top of page