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


PRUNELLA. Selfheal. [Lamiaceae]

Three species of Prunella are recorded in Britain. These include the native Selfheal (P. vulgaris).

Eight British miners are recorded on Prunella.

A key to the European miners recorded on Prunella is provided in Bladmineerders van Europa.

Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris. Image: © Linda Pitkin
Prunella vulgaris

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

1a >Stem mine. A shallow, inconspicuous external stem mine. Pupation in stem near a node (Spencer, 1972b: 29).

On Clinopodium, Galeopsis, Lamium and Stachys, but not yet on Prunella, in Britain and Calamintha, Galeopsis, Lamium, Nepeta, Prunella, Satureja and Stachys elsewhere. Widespread in Britain including Surrey, Oxford, Hunts, Warwick, Suffolk and Perth. Widespread in continental Europe. Also recorded from the East Palaearctic.

Ophiomyia labiatarum Hering, 1937 [Diptera: Agromyzidae].

1b > 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)


1c > 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.


2 > Leaf-miner and case-bearer: Blotch mines reaching the edge of the leaf, initially pale green turning brownish white, are caused by the larva feeding on the underside of a leaf. The fully developed case is slender, shining black brown, about 9 mm long. Towards the end a narrow, transparent yellowish ventral keel. Mouth angle 50-60°. Cases on the leaf underside.

On Calamintha, Clinopodium, Glechoma, ? Lycopus, Mentha, Nepeta, Origanum, Prunella, Salvia, Stachys and Thymus in Britain plus Melissa, Melittis and Satureja but not Calamintha elsewhere. Throughout England and Wales and a few places in Scotland. Widespread in continental Europe.

Coleophora albitarsella Zeller, 1849 [Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae].

3a > Leaf-miner: Rather long corridor winding through the leaf, regularly crossing itself. The corridor later widens considerably. Frass normally in a narrow central line, but may also lie along the side, or be absent. The larva regularly leaves a mine and restarts elsewhere.

On Lamiastrum galeobdolon and Lamium album, but not yet on Prunella, in Britain plus Ajuga reptans, Clinopodium vulgare, Lamium, Prunella, Stachys, Teucrium, Plantago major, Veronica, chamaedrys and Veronica longifolia elsewhere. Widespread in England and continental Europe.

Apteropeda globosa (Illiger, 1794) [Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae].

3b > Leaf-miner: Rather long full depth corridor that winds freely through the leaf and may cross itself. In the end the corridor widens considerably. Frass mostly in a narrow central line, but may also be deposited along the sides or be missing. The larvae regular leave a mine to restart elsewhere. Pupation outside the mine. Neither larva or mine can be distinguished from that of related species.

Polyphagous. On numerous genera and species in several plant families, but not yet on Prunella, in Britain. On numerous genera and species in several plant families, including Prunella, elsewhere. Widespread in Britain and continental Europe.

Apteropeda orbiculata (Marsham, 1802) [Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae].

3c > Leaf-miner: A linear-blotch mine, first instar mine is linear, later developing into a conspicuous white blotch. Frass greenish diffused (Spencer, 1972b: 46, 47 (fig. 138); Spencer, 1976: 166).

The mine begins with a long, upper-surface, slender corridor. After a moult the larva changes its behaviour, and makes a large, upper-surface primary blotch without apparent feeding lines. Often the blotch overruns more or less the initial corridor. Frass in the corridor liquified to form a wide green band, with a few tiny black granules along the sides. Pupation outside the mine.

A narrow gallery leading to a largish blotch on the upper surface. Frass is green and indistinct in the gallery - small grains may be seen at the gallery edge.

Amauromyza labiatarum puparium
Amauromyza labiatarum puparium
Image: © Willem Ellis (Bladmineerders van Europa)

On numerous genera of Lamiaceae, including Ajuga, in Britain and elsewhere. Widespread and locally common in south of England. Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland and widespread and frequently common in continental Europe.

Amauromyza labiatarum (Hendel, 1920) [Diptera: Agromyzidae].

3d > Leaf-miner: Rather narrow corridor, untidy and sometimes branched, starting from the base of the leaf, in particular the midrib. Sides of the corridor irregularly eaten out, not really parallel. Frass mostly present, and then in a central line. The larva is capable of leaving the mine and start a new one elsewhere. These later mines are much broader, and the frass is scattered irregularly..

Mine of Orthochaetes insignis on Prunella vulgaris

Mine of Orthochaetes insignis on Prunella vulgaris
Image: © Jean-Yves Baugnée (Bladmineerders van Europa)

Host plants unknown in Britain. On numerous genera and species in several plant families, including Prunella elsewhere. Recorded in southern England. Widespread in continental Europe.

Orthochaetes insignis (Aube, 1863) [Coleoptera: Curculionidae].

3e > Leaf-miner: Egg at the upperside of the leaf. The mine is an extremely long corridor, often following the midrib or the leaf margin, with frass in a narrow central line, widening in te end into an irregular elongate blotch. Corridor sides somehwat irregularly scalloped out, especially towards the end. The larva may move, all the while mining, to another, even a third, leaf by way of the petioles and stem. Therefore one leaf may have only a narrow corridor, another a blotch. Pupation external. Mines mainly in the lowest leaves, difficult to find.

Mine of Trifurcula headleyella on Prunella vulgaris Image: © Willem Ellis (Bladmineerders en plantengallen van Europa)
Mine of Trifurcula headleyella on Prunella vulgaris
Image: © Willem Ellis (Bladmineerders van Europa)

On Prunella in Britain and elsewhere. Britain including the Isle of Wight, North Hants, South Hants and Warwick. Widespread in continental Europe.

Trifurcula headleyella (Stainton, 1854) [Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae].

3f > Leaf-miner: Full depth, initially a much branched corridor, irregular in width, in the end almost a blotch. The mine has openings by which part of the frass is ejected. The larvae frequently leave the mine to restart elsewhere. Older larva live free and cause window feeding, often erasing their old mines. In Coltsfoot also pseudo-mines are made, when the larva eats away the lower epidermis with the leaf tissue, but spares the dense hair cover.

On Ranunculus, but not yet on Prunella, in Britain. On numerous genera and species in several families elsewhere, including Adoxa. Distribution in Britain unknown. Widespread in continental Europe.

Phytosciara halterata Lengersdorf, 1926 [Diptera: Sciaridae].

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