An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Leaf Miners

9-29 leaf miners IMG_6836A leaf miner is the larval stage of an insect (primarily moths, sawflies and flies) that feeds on leaf plant tissue. Most of these insects feed for their entire larval period within the leaf, creating tunnels between the upper and lower leaf surfaces. Some will pupate within the leaf mine, while others cut their way out when they are full-grown and pupate in the soil.

The pattern of feeding tunnels, as well as the pattern of droppings, or frass, within them (darker sections of tunnels), combined with the species of plant on which they occur, can sometimes identify the species of insect that created the mines. A moth larva, the Common Aspen Leaf Miner (Phyllocnistis populiella), leaves delicate, serpentine mines (see photo) that are diagnostic of this species.

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4 responses

  1. Cindy Sprague

    Very Cool! – thanks for the post.

    September 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm

  2. In what kind of mine was the larva in the inset photo? It isn’t a Phyllocnistis.

    September 29, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    • You are so observant! I have no idea what the insert larva/mine was. Was just trying to illustrate a mining larva, but should have indicated that it wasn’t Phyllocnistis!

      September 30, 2015 at 8:25 am

  3. My columbines are always wrecked by miners every spring. Hard to avoid!

    September 29, 2015 at 11:07 pm

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