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


Bucculatrix cristatella (Zeller, 1839)
[Lepidoptera: Bucculatricidae]

Crested Bent-wing

Lyonetia cristatella Zeller, 1839. Isis: 214
Bucculatrix jugicola
Wocke, 1876. Kleinach Deutsch. 2 (2): 721
Bucculatrix cristatella
(Zeller, 1839).

Leaf-miner: The larva feeds in a leaf-mine to begin with, then later feeds externally on the leaves, shrivelling and blanching or browning them (UKMoths).

Initially an extremely fine corridor along the leaf margin; these mines mainly in the lower leaves. Frass in a narrow central line. The larva can leave its mine and restart elsewhere. Older larvae live free, and feed by slicing open the margin of a leaf segment near its tip and eating away as much tissue as it can reach (to about one third of its body length). The result is a number of full depth blotch mines. When the larva has become too large even for this strategy, its starts to feed freely on the leaf (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The mines and larvae are illustrated in 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).

Twice during its growth, it spins a white cocoonet in which it moults its skin. The cocoonet is constructed on the upper surface of a leaf, where it is easily detected. If held up to the light, the larva, or its cast skin retaining the larval shape, can be seen (UKMoths).

The mining larva is amber yellow (intestine greenish as usual), head and prothoracic shield brown; the chaetotaxy is described by Klimesch (1942a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

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

The larva pupates in a distinctive whitish ribbed cocoon (UKMoths).

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

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Achillea millefolium Yarrow British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers
Achillea millefolium Yarrow British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Achillea millefolium Yarrow British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Achillea millefolium Yarrow British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Anthemis tinctoria Yellow Chamomile British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Chrysanthemum       Bladmineerders van Europa
Leucanthemopsis alpina     Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: April and May and again in July (UKMoths; British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: May and June, then July to August (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Fairly widespread in England including Lancashire (Greater Manchester, Flixton), Chester (UKMoths), Suffolk (Thetford) (British leafminers); Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Durham, East cornwall, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Haddington, Isle of Wight, North Hampshire, Shropshire, South Essex, Stafford, West Norfolk, 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, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, East, North and Northwest, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Achillea millefolium, Anthemis tinctoria

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Deuterixys carbonaria (Wesmael, 1837) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Deuterixys rimulosa (Niezabitowski, 1910) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Glyptapanteles fraternus (Reinhard, 1881) Braconidae: Microgastrinae

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 10-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page