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


Ectoedemia occultella (Linnaeus, 1767)
[Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae]

Large Birch Pigmy

Phalaena occultella Linnaeus, 1767. Syst. Nat. (ed. 12) 1 (2): 899
Lyonetia argentipedella Zeller, 1839. Isis: 215.
Ectoedemia occultella
(Linnaeus, 1767).

Leaf-miner: The larvae mine the leaves of birch, creating a distinctive mine which begins as a dark circular blotch, and is then extended into a larger pale blotch with a darker central circle. Sometimes several mines are found in one leaf (UKMoths).

Egg usually at the underside of the leaf. The mine is a roundish, often almost circular, primary, upper-surface blotch without a trace of an initial corridor; often several mines in leaf. The mine has a conspicuous dark centre, where the larva often retreats. Young mines consist of only the dark centre, without the light periphery. Also the frass is accumulated here; unlike in Leucoptera malifoliella the frass is not draped in arcs around the centre (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 British leafminers and 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 illustrated in UKMoths. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Betula       British leafminers
Betula       Pitkin & Plant
Betula       UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Betula       Belgian Lepidoptera
Betula ermani     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula grossa     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula humilis     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula nana Dwarf Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula obscura     Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula pendula Silver Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Betula pubescens Downy Birch British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: August - October (British leafminers; UKMoths).

Time of year - adults: There is a single generation, with adults at large from late May to July (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Distributed commonly throughout mainland Britain (UKMoths) including Anglesey, Bedfordshire, Breconshire, Caernarvonshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Denbighshire, Derbyshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Dunbartonshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, East Sutherland, Easterness, Glamorgan, Haddington, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Kincardineshire, Kirkudbrightshire, Leicestershire, Linlithgow, Middlesex, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire, North Aberdeenshire, North Devon, North Ebudes, North Hampshire, North Northumberland, North Somerset, Northamptonshire, South Northumberland, Shropshire, South Aberdeenshire, South Hampshire, South Wiltshire, South-west Yorkshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, Stirlingshire, Surrey, West Cornwall, West Gloucestershire, West Lancashire, West Norfolk, West Perthshire, West Suffolk, Westmorland, Wigtownshire and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland. See also Ireland's National Biodiversity Data Centre Map).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Corsica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, East, North and Northwest, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands. Also recorded in the East Palaearctic (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Betula nana, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Chrysocharis acoris (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis assis (Walker 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis nephereus (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis prodice (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Adelius subfasciatus Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Cheloninae
Microgaster messoria Haliday, 1834 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 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page