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


Scrobipalpa artemisiella (Treitschke, 1833)
[Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae]

Thyme Moth

Lita artemisiella Treitschke, 1833. Schmett. Europ. 9 (2): 97.
Anacampsis ancillella
Bruand, 1851. Mem. Soc. Emul. Doubs. (1) 3 (3): 41.
Scrobipalpa artemisiella
(Treitschke, 1833).

Leaf-miner: Young larvae make small, brown, full depth blotch mines without frass in the young leaves, from within the protection of a spinning. Later they cause upper-surface window feeding, while hidden among spun leaves (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).

Body dull brownish green, five purplish-brown length lines; second thoracic segment dark purplish-brown; pinnacula small, black; prolegs concolorous with body. Head, prothoracic and anal plates, and thoracic legs black (Heckford, 1955a). Jansen (199a) adds that some larvae have a brown, rather than green body (Bladmineerders van Europa).

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

See Patocka and Turcáni (2005a) (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Adult: The adult is illustrated in UKMoths. The species is included in

Comments: Possibly also Mentha. References to Achillea, Artemisia campestris, Centaurea panicalta, C. stoebe (Acosta rhenana) and Thymus serpyllum are incorrect, probably partly caused by confusion with Scrobipalpula psilella (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:

Thymus polytrichus Wild Thyme British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. UKMoths, as Thymus praecox
Thymus polytrichus ssp. britannicus     Pitkin & Plant

Hosts elsewhere:

? Mentha       Bladmineerders van Europa
Thymus drucei     Belgian Lepidoptera
Thymus polytrichus ssp. britannicus     Bladmineerders van Europa, as Thymus praecox subsp. arcticus
Thymus pulegioides Large Garden Thyme   Belgian Lepidoptera
Thymus pulegioides Large Garden Thyme   Bladmineerders van Europa


montana Winter Savory   Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: May-June (Bland et al., 2002a).

Time of year - adults: June and July (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Present over much of Britain (UKMoths) including Anglesey, Berkshire, Breconshire, Caernarvonshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Derbyshire, Durham, East Cornwall, East Kent, East Norfolk, Easterness, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Haddington, Hertfordshire, Kincardineshire, Merionethshire, North Ebudes, North Essex, North Somerset, Pembrokeshire, South Aberdeenshire, Stafford, West Cornwall, West Lancashire, West Norfolk, West Suffolk, and Westmorland (NBN Atlas). In dry and sandy places where the foodplant abounds (UKMoths).

Also recorded in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Fauna Europaea and National Biodiversity Data Centre Map).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Corsica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Estonia, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia - Central, East, Northwest and South, Sardinia, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spanish mainland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Ukraine and Yugoslavia (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

Thymus polytrichus, Thymus polytrichus ssp. britannicus, Thymus pulegioides, Satureja montana

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere: Currently unknown.

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 19-Oct-2019  Brian Pitkin Top of page