Thursday 10 November 2016

Overwintering Leafminers

One or two people have mentioned to me that they are starting to develop an interest in leaf mines.  This has prompted me to put together a tip or two and although it may be a little late for this year there are still a few 'green islands' around among the fallen leaves.  Beech and Oak are the best for this, look for a green patch in the middle of an otherwise brown leaf and there should be a larva still in there.  Beech mines are easily identified but Oak mines are a little more complicated and may need rearing through the winter.
More information can be found on the internet and by carefully working through the key, link (here) you will have some success I'm sure. You can start with either the 'Mine-keys' or 'Plants' page but I suggest using both.  You will not be able to identify everything, so don't try and start off with the easy ones.
Stigmella tityrella on Beech

Stigmella hemargyrella on Beech

Rearing miners through the winter.

Some species cannot safely be identified from the mine alone. A look at the larva or pupa can help in some cases but this needs care.
If you find a mine containing a live larva or pupa;  cut up some old tights and tie off one end, put the leaf inside and tie off the other end and secure it to a low growing bush in the garden.  Don't forget a label! Choose a sheltered spot for this, you are trying to mimic what would happen to a leaf 'in the wild'.  Bring the leaf indoors next year March or April time, remove the leaf from the tights, put it in a pot and wait to see what emerges. Phyllonorycter mines work well to start with.

Best of luck.


  1. I have a vision of your back garden now full of tatty tights hanging up. Do you get strange looks from the neighbours?

    1. No strange looks at all Peter, until I start to wear them again...but it's a 'B' of a job stitching them back together. lol

  2. Thanks for the blog post. I went out looking and found quite a few of the 'green islands' in fallen leaves, both for beech (S. tityrella x 2) and oak.

    1. S.tityrella does seem to be more common but the hemargyrella I have found recently are 'vacated', so the 'green' has faded.

  3. Very useful Ina. I'll see what I can do!

  4. Thank you for the interest. I should try to do more of this sort of thing.


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