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


Phyllonorycter sagitella (Bjerkander, 1790)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Scarce Aspen Midget

Phalaena sagitella Bjerkander, 1790
Lithocolletis tremulae
Zeller, 1846. Linn. Ent.: 251, t. 1 fig. 40.
Phyllonorycter sagitella
(Bjerkander, 1790).

Leaf-miner: The lower surface of the mine can have small creases and appear reddish (British leafminers).

Lower surface oval tentiform mine, without a fixed position on the leaf. The mine is yellowish, sometimes tinged with red; black when old. Frass stacked in one corner of the mine, the almost black pupa, in a very flimsy cocoon, in the other (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.

Phyllonorycter sagitella larva,  dorsal
Phyllonorycter sagitella larva, dorsal
Image: © Willem Ellis (Bladmineerders van Europa)

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

The cremaster is illustrated in British leafminers. The pupa is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa.

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths by Martin Kennard.The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Populus tremula Aspen British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers
Populus tremula Aspen British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

Populus tremula Aspen British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Populus tremula Aspen British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

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

Time of year - adults: Currently unknown.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: A rare miner in the UK, discovered in 1977 in Gloucestershire (British leafminers) and subsequently recorded from Caernarvonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Huntingdonshire and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norwegian mainland, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, East, North, Northwest and South, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine. Also present in East Palaearctic and Near East (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Populus tremula

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Cirrospilus viticola (Rondani, 1877) Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Sympiesis gordius (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Eulophinae

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 28-Jun-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page