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


Caloptilia azaleella (Brants, 1913)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Azalea Leaf Miner

Gracilaria azaleella Brants, 1913. Tidjschr. Ent. 56: LXXII
Caloptilia azaleella
(Brants, 1913).

Leaf-miner: The larvae initially form mines in leaves, later forming a cone by rolling the leaf downwards from the tip (UKMoths).

Orange brown to rust-coloured lower-surface blotch, mostly near the midrib. Towards the end of the mining activity silk is deposited in the mine; this causes the mine to contract, folding the leaf over the mine. Frass packed in a corner of the mine. After some time the larva vacates the mine and lives free then in a leaf tip that has been rolled downwards and fixed with silk. Two of such cones are made and eaten out from the inside. Pupation in a membranous, shining cocoon at the underside of a leaf (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The mine is also 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).

Described by SCS Brown (1947a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

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

In a cocoon under a white membrane; underside of leaf (British leafminers).

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

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Rhododendron       British leafminers
Rhododendron       Pitkin & Plant
Rhododendron       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Rhododendron       Belgian Lepidoptera
Rhododendron decandrum      
Rhododendron dilatatum     Belgian Lepidoptera
Rhododendron hinomayo     Bladmineerders van Europa
Rhododendron indicum     Belgian Lepidoptera

Time of year - larvae: June, September (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: 2-3 generations from May to October (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: This moth is an adventive species, probably introduced with azalea and rhodedendron plants, that is now spreading throughout Britain including Lancashire (Greater Manchester, Chorlton) (UKMoths), Hampshire (Fleet) (British leafminers); Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, East Cornwall, East Kent, East Suffolk, Glamorgan, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, North Wiltshire, South Devon, South Lancashire, Surrey, West Cornwall, West Kent, West Suffolk and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, French mainland, Germany, Italian mainland, Luxembourg, Madeira, Poland, Portuguese mainland, Russia - Central, Slovakia, Sweden and The Netherlands (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

No host species maps

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Sympiesis dolichogaster Ashmead, 1888 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Pholetesor laetus (Marshall, 1885) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Itoplectis alternans (Gravenhorst, 1829) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae

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 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page