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


Cosmopterix pulchrimella Chambers, 1875
[Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae]

Cosmopterix pulchrimella Chambers, 1875
Cosmopterix pulcherrimella Chambers, 1878. Cinc. Qly, J. Science 2: 231
Cosmopterix parietariae M. Hering, 1931. Amat. Pap. 4: 201.

Leaf-miner: The mine usually starts in the lower part of the leaf and then broadens out towards the tip. The mine appears whitish on plants growing in the shade (and are very obvious as pale patches on usually the larger leaved examples of the plant), but more grey or brown in brighter habitats. The mine is lined with silk strands (British leafminers).

The mine begins as a short irregular corridor, usually following the midrib, widening into an irregular blotch. Some silk is deposited in the mine, causing it to contract a bit. Most frass is ejected through an opening near the begin of the mine; some is trapped in spinning under the leaf. The larva often moves to a new mine. Pupation within the mine in a folded leaf margin or in a leaf fold (Bladmineerders van Europa).

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

Within a white silk cocoon, beneath a turned down leaf edge (British leafminers). The pupa is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa.

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

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Parietaria       UKMoths
Parietaria judaica Pellitory-of-the-wall British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers

Hosts elsewhere:

Parietaria judaica Pellitory-of-the-wall British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Parietaria judaica Pellitory-of-the-wall British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Parietaria officinalis Eastern Pellitory-of-the-wall   Bladmineerders van Europa
Parietaria pensylvanica     Bladmineerders van Europa
Pilea pumila     Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: Late May -June, October-January (British leafminers).

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: After the first discovery of a moth in Dorset in 2001, Rich Austin and Peter Costen discovered colonies in Guernsey, Channel Is. in 2002. It is now found in southern coastal regions of the UK (British leafminers). East Cornwall (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Following Rich Austin's and Peter Costen's discovery of this moth in Guernsey as a miner of Pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria  judaica), it has now been discovered in two locations in Cornwall by David Pearman and Phil Sterling (see also and also in Dorset by Mark Parsons (Parsons, M (2004), Cosmopterix pulchrimella (Lep.Cosmopterigidae), a new resident at West Bay, Bridport, Dorset, Ent Gaz, 55, 72).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Albania, Azores, Canary Is., Corsica, Crete, Croatia, French mainland, Greek mainland, Italian mainland, Madeira, Malta, Portuguese mainland, Sardinia, Sicily, Spanish mainland and Switzerland (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Parietaria judaica, Parietaria officinalis

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Cirrospilus diallus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Diadegma exareolator Aubert, 1964 Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae

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