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Leaf damage on rose - Stigmella

Leaf damage on rose - Stigmella
Alameda County, California, USA
December 29, 2009
At least two kinds of damage on leaf of miniature rose.

Is one of the culprits?

Moved from Nepticulidae.

Moved from Unidentified Leaf Mines. This is actually BugGuide's first image of a nepticulid leaf mine, so it's a great addition to the guide. I hope you get an ID for that larva... your best bet for that would be to collect it and rear it.

Well, maybe
The Balabans say it's a sawfly. On the Unidentified Sawfly Larvae page, Dave Smith says they're hard to rear but doesn't say just why. My facilities are limited. I already have five big overwintering moth larvae, a small pupa of another moth, and some eggs of I-have-no-idea-what. If suitable containers were easier to come by . . .

Added the leaf mines to my brag list. Thanks for telling me how special they are!

There appear to be two species of larva in your photo series: is a sawfly (identified by the Balabans); may be a moth (suggested by Charley).

I moved the mothy one to Moths.

I thought their heads didn't match too well!

One last fix
One last fix - you will correspondingly need to replace the moth photo with the sawfly photo in your note on the "Unidentified sawfly larvae on rose" forum posting. Thanks!

Hard to rear
I'm not sure exactly why they're hard to rear, but I know that I've tried and had them spin cocoons but then shrivel up without pupating. I'm guessing that keeping them in a jar was too dry for them, and that if they had been allowed to burrow in the ground or in leaf litter at least they would have done better. Also, I know some species will wait a year or several years before emerging from their cocoons. Lately, I've been using ziploc bags to rear things, and this works well because it retains the moisture in the leaves better. However, I had some dogwood sawfly larvae in ziploc bags, and when they were ready to pupate they all chewed their way out of the bags in search of wood to bore into (I found one in a spider web, one boring into my window sill, and the other four are still at large... found a suspicious pile of sawdust under a wooden chair)... so maybe a ziploc bag inside another container is a good way to go.

That doesn't sound encouraging
If they need wood, it's easy enough to supply some, but not if it has to be a certain species of wood. I wouldn't want to use sealed bags--they don't allow air flow.

Cladius difformis adults were here in the summer, but of course other sawflies could have been, too.

I forgot to mention the swallowtail chrysalis in the laundry room along with the other critters.

Most sawfly larvae (as far as I know) don't bore into wood to pupate, and the ones that do don't care what kind--Dave Smith told me he has had success offering them corks to use. I collected some random punky chunks of wood for the two larvae I recovered and they were happy to bore into these. Other sawfly larvae have been known to bore into apples to pupate. But most, I think, burrow into the ground or in leaf litter; a few make exposed cocoons on vegetation.

Follow-up: new photo
See . This tends to confirm that the green larva causes blotchy damage.

Leaf mine: Nepticulidae
Based on the HOSTS database, the North American options for rose-feeding nepticulids are Ectoedemia marmaropa (on Rosa woodsii), Stigmella rosaefoliella (on unspecified rose and Rosa setigera), and Stigmella villosella (on Rosa villosa). The caterpillar in the linked image is not a nepticulid. It's possible that it causes this other blotchy feeding damage before it becomes a leaf-folder, but of course it's also possible that you have many different bugs feeding on your rose leaves. Here's another moth larva (unidentified) that apparently feeds in a similar pattern on rose leaves:

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