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 scribaiella Zeller, 1850
[Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae]

New Marsh Cosmet

Cosmopterix scribaiella Zeller, 1850. Stett. ent. Ztg. 11: 197
Cosmopterix hermsiella E. Hering, 1889. Stett. ent. Ztg.: 308-313.

Leaf-miner: Initially a corridor, but in the end half as wide as the blade. Widening of the mine is done by adding all tissue between two thick longitudinal veins. Most frass in the lowest part of the mine; part of it is ejected through a number of small holes. Both during hibernation as in the pupal stage the larva occupies the lowest part of the mine; the larva has spun a tube here into which it also retracts during feeding pauses. The pupa is laying head downwards, just above a preformed exit opening (Bladmineerders van Europa).

A straight mine which widens. Frass is at one end of the mine and also ejected. Usually one mine in a leaf, but may be more. The larva spins a tube at the base of the mine and hides there. The larva overwinters in the mine. (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).

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).

Adult: The adult is not illustrated in UKMoths (check for update). The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Phragmites australis
Common Reed British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Phragmites       Belgian Lepidoptera
Phragmites australis Common Reed British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: Larvae in August-April; hibernation in the mine (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Britain including Dorset (NBN Atlas). See also British leafminers distribution map.

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia - South, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Phragmites australis

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Coloneura stylata Förster, 1862 Braconidae: Alysiinae
Chelonus exilis Marshall, 1885 Braconidae: Cheloninae
Colastes braconius Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Exothecinae
Microgaster parvistriga Thomson, 1895 Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Gelis melanogaster (Thomson, 1884) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Scambus inanis (Schrank, 1802) 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 16-Oct-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page