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


Argyresthia cupressella Walsingham, 1890
[Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae]

Argyresthia cupressella Walsingham, 1890

Leaf-miner: During autumn the larva mines a mere 9-12 leaves - the damage is quite inconspicuous. Hibernation occurs within the mine, and during mild days feeding may continue. After hibernation the larva lives as a borer, and empties 4-6 shoots, over a length of 0.5 - 2.5 mm, just below the tip of the shoot. The damaged shoots wilt and die off (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Argyresthia cupressella
Mine of Argyrethia cupressella
Image: © Ben Smart

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 illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa.

Pupa: Pupa in a white fusiform coccoon that often is spun among the twigs, rather than on the ground (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Cupressaceae       British leafminers
Cupressocyparis leylandii   British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. pers. comm. Ben Smart

Hosts elsewhere:

Cupressaceae       Bladmineerders van Europa
Chamaecyparis       Bladmineerders van Europa
Cupressocyparis       Bladmineerders van Europa
Juniperus       Bladmineerders van Europa
Thuja       Bladmineerders van Europa

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

Time of year - adults: June and July (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Widespread inclduing in East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Glamorgan, Leicester, Middlesex, Shropshire, South-east Yorkshire, Stafford, West Lancashire, West Norfolk and West Suffolk (NBN Atlas).

Distribution elsewhere: Native in the western coastal region of the United States, and emerged in Britain in 1997, where it now is spreading rapidly (Agassiz & Tuck, 1999a; Heckford, 2004a). The hostplants are also on the European mainland very popular as ornamental conifers, and the discovery of this Argyresthia here will be a mere matter of time (Bladmineerders van Europa).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Host species unknown

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 25-Jun-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page