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 salinella (Zeller, 1847)
[Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae]

Sea-aster Groundling

Gelechia salinella Zeller, 1847. Isis: 853.
Scrobipalpa salinella
(Zeller, 1847).

Leaf-miner: Long, extremely narrow lower- or upper-surface corridor, with a black or brown central frass line. After a while this primary mine is vacated, and the larva starts making shorter, much broader, full depth blotch mines. In the end the larva lives free among spun leaves (Bladmineerders van Europa).

The mine is also illustrated in UKMoths.

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 larvae can live on plants on the lowest parts of saltings, which are frequently immersed by the tide (UKMoths).

Dirty yellow with a red length line; head light brown; pronotum, anal shield and thoracic feet black (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

Comments: According to the literature also on Aster tripolium and Suaeda maritima, but probably this concerns occasional observations or confusion with the mines of Bucculatrix maritima (Bland, 2002a; Jansen, in litt.)

The list of hostplants presented by Elsner et al. (1999a), including Atriplex, Spergularia media and even Ferula is bizarre (Bladmineerders van Europa).

Hosts in Great Britain and Ireland:


? Aster

tripolium Sea Aster British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bland, 2002a
? Aster tripolium Sea Aster British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Pitkin & Plant

? Suaeda

maritima Annual Sea-blite British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bland, 2002a

Hosts elsewhere:

Salicornia europaea Common Glasswort British Wild Flowers by John Somerville et al. Bladmineerders van Europa

Time of year - larvae: May (UKMoths).

Time of year - adults: June - September (UKMoths).

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland: Found on saltings in England and Wales where its foodplants grow (UKMoths) including Dorset, Durham, East Kent, East Suffolk, Glamorgan, Isle of Wight, Kirkudbrightshire, North Lincolnshire, South Essex, South Hampshire, South-east Yorkshire, West Cornwall and West Sussex (NBN Atlas).

It is regarded as a local and difficult-to-record species (MBGBI 4-2), and can probably be most easily found by searching for larvae from late April to early June (UKMoths).

Distribution elsewhere: Widespread in continental Europe including Albania, Austria, Balearic Is., Belgium, Bulgaria, Corsica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danish mainland, Finland, French mainland, Germany, Greek mainland, Hungary, Italian mainland, Latvia, Poland, Portuguese mainland, Romania, Russia - South, Sardinia, Sicily, Spanish mainland, Sweden, The Netherlands and Ukraine (Fauna Europaea).

NBN Atlas links to known host species:

? Aster tripolium, Salicornia europaea, ? Suaeda maritima

British and Irish Parasitoids in Britain and elsewhere:

Ichneumonoidea - Links to species no longer available  
Gelis agilis (Fabricius, 1775) Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae
Scambus brevicornis (Gravenhorst, 1829) Ichneumonidae: Pimplinae

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