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 strigulatella (Lienig & Zeller, 1846)
[Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae]

Grey-alder Midget

Lithocolletis strigulatella Lienig & Zeller, 1846. Isis: 300.
Phyllonorycter strigulatella
(Lienig and Zeller, 1846).

Leaf-miner: The mine is underside, between veins, narrow and close to midrib (British leafminers).

Often there are several to one leaf, and have a distinct brown tinge (UKMoths).

Elongated, lower-surface, in the end tubular contracted tentiform mine, usualy starting at a small distance from the midrib. The lower epidermis with many weak wrinkles but no clear folds. Often several mines in a leaf. All frass is accumulated in an angle of the mine. Pupa in a white cocoon that is free from frass (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 strigulatella larva,  dorsal
Phyllonorycter strigulatella 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 pupa is illustrated in Bladmineerders van Europa and in British leafminers.

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths and the Encyclopedia of Life. The species is included in

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Alnus incana Grey Alder British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. British leafminers
Alnus incana Grey Alder British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant
Alnus incana Grey Alder British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths

Hosts elsewhere:

Alnus incana Grey Alder British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Belgian Lepidoptera
Alnus incana Grey Alder British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa
Alnus minor     Bladmineerders van Europa

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

Time of year - adults: Two generations, flying in May and late July and August (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Occurs in widely separated colonies around its foodplant Grey Alder. It is known from a few isolated places ranging from north-west Britain, through Wales and down to East Anglia and southern Britain (UKMoths) including Anglesey, Ayrshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Dorset, East Kent, East Norfolk, East Ross, East Suffolk, East Sutherland, Glamorgan, Isle of Wight, Leicestershire, North Ebudes, North Suffolk, Shropshire, South Wiltshire, South-west Yorkshire, Stafford, West Gloucestershire, West Norfolk, Westmorland and Worcestershire (NBN Atlas).

See also British leafminers distribution map.

It can be locally very common where it occurs (UKMoths).

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

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Alnus incana

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Achrysocharoides cilla (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Achrysocharoides splendens (Delucchi, 1954) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Chrysocharis nephereus (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Pediobius alcaeus (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Entedoninae
Cirrospilus diallus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Cirrospilus salatis Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Cirrospilus vittatus Walker, 1838 Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Sympiesis gordius (Walker, 1839) Eulophidae: Eulophinae
Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Coloneura stylata Förster, 1862 Braconidae: Alysiinae
Colastes braconius Haliday, 1833 Braconidae: Exothecinae
Protapanteles triangulator (Wesmael, 1837) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Pholetesor bicolor (Nees, 1834) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Pholetesor circumscriptus (Nees, 1834) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Pholetesor laetus (Marshall, 1885) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Pholetesor nanus (Reinhard, 1880) Braconidae: Microgastrinae
Mesochorus dispar Brischke, 1880 Ichneumonidae: Mesochorinae

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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Find using Google Scholar
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Last updated 11-Jul-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page