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

Common Birch Pigmy

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

Leaf-miner: The mine is short, with frass irregular, linear. The larva is yellow, gut-line green, and dark ventral spots. There are often several mines in a leaf. The mines are found frequently on seedlings and small plants (British leafminers).

Egg at the underside of the leaf, close to a vein. The mine is a little widening, rather short, tortuous corridor. The first part does not encircle the egg, neither is it lower-surface.The frass line is one third to one half of the width of the corridor. The sides of the corridor are smooth, not scalloped out. Mostly several mines in a leaf, not infrequently crossing each other. Pupation external, exit slit in the lower 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 bright yellow with a yellowish brown head and a brown spot on the prothorax. The ganglia of the ventral nervous system are conspicuous. SCS Brown (1947a) and Gustafsson and van Nieukerken (1990a) give a description of the larva (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:

Betula       British leafminers
Betula nana Dwarf Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Betula pendula Silver Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Betula pubescens     Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula       Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula alleghaniensis     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula humilis     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula maximowicziana     Bladmineerders van Europa
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: July, September - early November (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Britain including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Denbighshire, East Kent, East Ross, East Suffolk, East Sussex, East Sutherland, Forfar, Glamorgan, Middlesex, North Aberdeenshire, North Essex, North Hampshire, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Wiltshire, Stafford, 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, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, East and Northwest, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Ukraine and Yugoslavia. Also recorded in East Palaearctic (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula maximowicziana, Betula nana, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Achrysocharoides niveipes (Thomson, 1878) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis amasis (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis acoris (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis budensis Erdös, 1954 Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Derostenus punctiscuta Thomson, 1878 Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Cirrospilus vittatus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Adelius subfasciatus Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Cheloninae
Gnamptodon decoris (Förster, 1862) Braconidae: Gnamptodontinae
Gnamptodon pumilio (Nees, 1834) Braconidae: Gnamptodontinae
Mirax rufilabris Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Miracinae

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