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


HELIANTHUS. Sunflowers and Jerusalem artichoke [Asteraceae]

Twelve species of Helianthus are recorded in Britain. all are introduced and include Sunflowers and Jerusalem artichoke (H. tuberosus).

Six or seven British non-Diptera miner are recorded on Helianthus.

A key to the European miners recorded on Helianthus is provided in Common Rock Rose - Helianthemum nummularium. Image: © Brian Pitkin
Common Rock Rose
Helianthemum nummularium

Key for the identification of the known mines of British
insects (Diptera and non-Diptera) recorded on Helianthemum

1a > Leaf-miner and case-bearer: The larva lives outside the mine, protected by a case, and feeds on the underlying plant tissues via a hole cut in the epidermis. From that point it eats away as much leaf tissue as it can reach without fully entering the mine. Mine does not contain frass (Coleophora species)


1b > Leaf-miner, but not a case-bearer: The larva lives mainly inside the mine. Mine usually contains frass. In later instars the larva may live sandwiched between two more or less circular sections cut from the leaf.


2a > Leaf-miner and case-bearer: The larva builds a case from leaf fragments, adding sections as it grows, creating a long narrow and distinctive case. A large, composite leaf case of 10-15 mm length, the fully developed case consisting the three succesive leaf fragments. Case light brown, bivalved; mouth angle c. 45°.

On Helianthemum nummularium in Britain and Helianthemum nummularium and guttata elsewhere. Locally distributed mainly in the southern counties of England and Wales. Widespread in continental Europe.

Coleophora ochrea (Haworth, 1828) [Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae].

2b > Leaf-miner and case-bearer: The case resembles that of C. violacea, but does not lie so flat again the leaf as this species (having a mouth angle of 30 to 50°). C. violacea also has a case which bulges in the middle, whereas in C. potentillae the case tapers towards the posterior. Immediately after emergence the larva makes a full depth, quickly widening, corridor, with frass as small grains in a broad central band. Finally results a blotch of 2 x 5 mm, from which the youth case is cut. The fully developed case is a hairy, greyish brown to silver grey lobe case of about 1 cm long, with a clearly laterally compressed end; the mouth angle is about 90°. The case is difficult to separate from that of C. ochripennella.

On Betula, Agrimonia, Crataegus, Filipendula ulmaria, Fragaria vesca, Geum, Helianthemum nummularium, Potentilla, Prunus spinosa, Rosa, Rubus caesius, Rosa fruticosus and Salix cinerea in Britain plus Malus sylvestris, Ribes, Sanguisorba and Spiraea elsewhere. Widespread in Britain and in continental Europe.

Coleophora e been recorded in Britain. These are syngenesiae (Hardy) and horticola (Goureau) which can only be distinguished by the male genitalia. Both species are widespread in Britain and elsewhere, although syngenesiae is almost entirely restricted to Asteraceae. Records on Asteraceae not based on examination of male genitalia are treated in this account as Chromatomyia 'atricornis'.

Chromatomyia syngenesiae is recorded on Helianthus elsewhere but not yet on Helianthus in Britain.

Chromatomyia horticola (Goureau, 1851) [Diptera: Agromyzidae]
Chromatomyia syngenesiae Hardy, 1849 [Diptera: Agromyzidae].

3b > Leaf-miner: A linear mine commencing with a conspicuous regular spiral and then continuing a considerable distance more or less straight (Spencer, 1976: 245).

Upper-surface corridor. The first part is wound in a dense spiral that quickly turns brown. The spiral continues in a long, generally unbranched corridor that maintains almost the same width. Frass in long thick strings. When the mine is positioned near the leaf margin the spiral part may be missing; the thick frass strings then are sufficiently characteristic. Pupation outside the mine; exit slit in lower epidermis.

Long upper surface gallery starting with a spiral of 6 to 8 turns (as shown). Frass in conspicuous narrow linear lines.

On Aster, Eupatorium, Helianthus, Lapsana and Solidago [Asteraceae] and Galeopsis [Lamiaceae] in Britain and continental Europe. Widespread in England. Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland. Widespread in continental Europe and recorded in Canada.

Liriomyza eupatorii (Kaltenbach, 1873) [Diptera: Agromyzidae].

3c > Leaf-miner: The mine begins as a long, quite narrow corridor, usually not far from the tip of a leaf segment. Usually this corridor follows the leaf margin for some distance, but it may also run freely through the blade and may then be stongly contorted. In the end the corridor is directed towards the midrib, where an elongated blotch is formed, overlying the midrib and some of the larger lateral veins. Frass in a nearly continuous line in the initial corridor, in scattered lumps in the later part of the mine. Primary and secondary feeding lines very conspicuous when seen in transparancy. Pupation outside the mine.

The mine starts as a very narrow corridor, usually close to the tip of a leaf segment and following the leaf margin. The later section of the corridor approaches the main vein, where an elongated blotch is made with long broad finger like extensions that lay over the secondary veins. In the initial corridor the frass forms an almost continuous line, in the blotch it is distributed in large scattered lumps. In fresh mines the secondary feeding lines are clearly visible.

On numerous genera of Asteraceae, including Helianthus in Britain. Throughout the British Isles, more common in the south than the north. Also continental Europe.

Trypeta zoe Meigen, 1826 [Diptera: Tephritidae].

3d > Leaf-miner: A short linear mine in first instar, later producing a circular or oval blotch. Frass is excreted in a black mass prior to pupation; puparium firmly glued with frass within the mine (Spencer, 1976: 306).

Large, whitish, upper-surface blotch, preceded by a short corridor that often is overrun later by the developing blotch. The larva hardly produces any frass; the few grains that are present are black and rather coarse. But when the larva is about to pupate, it empties its intestine, which has the effect that the puparium is anchored in the mine by dried frass.

The initial gallery by the first instar larva then leads to a whitish blotch. The puparium is fixed to the inside of the mine by an accumulation of frass.

On Aster, Bellis and Erigeron, but not yet on Helianthus, in Britain and additional genera of Asteraceae elsewhere. Widespread in southern England and continental Europe. Also recorded in Canada, Argentina, South Africa, India, Australia and Papua New Guinea

Calycomyza humeralis (von Roser, 1840) [Diptera: Agromyzidae].

3d > Leaf-miner: In the first instar the larva mines the leaves, forming short, irregular, blotch-like mines, but in later instars it lives externally, feeding in spun leaves and often twisting those of tender shoots. Larval head light-brown or yellowish brown, edged with black postero-laterally, ocellar area blackish; prothoracic plate black edged with whitish anteriorly; abdomen dull dark green; pinacula distinct, black, sometimes brownish but with black bases to setae; anal plate large, black (Bradley et al., 1973). Small, full depth mine without a definite shape; little frass. Some silk is deposited in the mine. The larva soon leaves the mine and continues feeding among spun leaves.

Polyphagous. On numerous genera and species of plant families, but not yet on Helianthus, in Britain. On numerous genera and species of plant families including Helianthus elsewhere. Widespread in Britain and continental Europe. Also recorded from the Channel Is.

Cnephasia incertana (Treitschke, 1835) [Lepidoptera: Tortricidae].

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