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


Leucospilapteryx omissella (Stainton, 1848)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Argyromiges omissella Stainton, 1848. Zoologist: 2163.
Leucospilapteryx omissella
(Stainton, 1848).

Leaf-miner: The larva feeds initially in a gallery on the underside of a mugwort leaf, eventually forming a blotch or blister that becomes inflated and turns at first yellowish, and later purple (UKMoths).

Upper surface blotch, with a conspicuous yellow-orange tinge (older mines turn brown). The larva lines the inside with much silk, causing the mine to pucker up strongly (the inflated surface and the mostly orange tinge distinguish the mine easily from that of Calycomyza artemisiae [Diptera: Agromyzidae] on the same host plant). The mine is preceded by a long lower-surface corridor, running along the midrib or the leaf margin (but practically invisible because of the densely hairy leaf underside). When the larva is almost full-grown it starts eating parts of the upper epidermis, giving the older mines a mottled appearance. Black frass in the centre of the mine. Pupation external (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).

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 illustrated in UKMoths (by Donald Hobern) and the Encyclopedia of Life. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Artemisia campestris Field Wormwood   Belgian Lepidoptera
Artemisia campestris Field Wormwood   Bladmineerders van Europa
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

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

Time of year - adults: The moths occur in two generations, flying in May and in August, usually in the late afternoon (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Distributed mainly in the south and east of England, this species frequents waste ground and similar habitats where its foodplant, mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), is plentiful (UKMoths) including Bedfordshire, Dorset, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Middlesex, North Hampshire, North Somerset, South Essex, West Kent, West Norfolk and West Suffolk (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Balearic Is., Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Corsica, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central and South, Slovakia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands. Also recorded in East Palaearctic and the Near East (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Artemisia campestris, Artemisia vulgaris

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Closterocerus turcicus (Nees, 1834) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Pholetesor viminetorum (Wesmael, 1837) 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 18-Oct-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page