Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

See Moth submissions from National Moth Week 2023

Photos of insects and people from the 2022 BugGuide gathering in New Mexico, July 20-24

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Photos of insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Previous events

leaf mine - Mompha terminella

leaf mine - Mompha terminella
Cross Plains, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA
September 12, 2011
Plant has been identified as Enchanter's Nightshade -- Circaea lutetiana.

Images of this individual: tag all
leaf mine - Mompha terminella leaf mine - Mompha terminella leaf mine - Mompha terminella leaf mine - Mompha terminella leaf mine - Mompha terminella leaf mine - Mompha terminella leaf mine - Mompha terminella leaf mine - Mompha terminella

Moved from Unidentified Leaf Mines.
An adult emerged today from a mine I collected that was just like this. The larvae stop expelling the frass from their mines at some point in their development, and Terry and I had only been familiar with the later stage mines.

I've been checking...
...and just found the first mines today in western MA. Just two so far, in the same leaf. I've collected them; no opinion yet as to moth vs. sawfly, but we'll get to the bottom of this!

Just found one of these mines in Massachusetts
Alas, already empty.

Some more thoughts
These actually look quite a bit like some sawfly larvae I've found this spring mining in Ranunculaceae. They, too, have the ability to exit the mine and start a new one elsewhere. I'm not quite ready yet to say these should be moved to the sawfly section, but I just wanted to say that if you find these again, it would be good to provide the larvae with soil to burrow into when they're mature, since that's what sawfly larvae would need.

I'll check in the area where
I'll check in the area where I found this one later this year.



Apparently the only leafminer recorded from Circaea lutetiana is Mompha terminella. It makes full-depth blotch mines like these, but the frass is deposited like this, not (as far as I know) pushed out of little holes at the edge of the mine. Also I note that according to "active mines can be found from early June through late July," so evidently finding one at this time of year would be unusual. On pp. 351-2 of (1) I mention some leafminers that push their droppings out like this. This is clearly not Bedellia; I don't know enough to rule out Lyonetiidae or Cosmopterigidae... One of these mines begins with a narrow, linear portion as described for Lyonetiidae, but most lyonetiids mine leaves of woody plants; Cosmopterix species mainly mine herbaceous plants, and I'm not sure if their mines would begin with a linear portion. I hope you've collected some of these mines. If you don't get adults, even the style of the cocoon (or lack thereof) could be useful in figuring this one out. It will be interesting to see what Terry Harrison thinks.

Just an observation...
One of the micro-moths I recently photographed might be Mompha terminella. Merrill Lynch, who has two photos of this moth posted on BG and MPG said he thought the moth I posted both on BG and the Facebook Mothing Group looked like Mompha terminella, too. .

Another species of Mompha larva looks like it may pile the frass up on the leaf of Enchanter's Nightshade like the larva I found although this photo shows only one frass pile. The larva I kept last year eventually did just make one pile of frass rather than all the little groups as shown in when I first found it. Mompha langiella.

Where is the frass pile you're talking about?
From what I can see in the linked photos of Mompha langiella, 100% of the frass is distributed inside the mine, whereas in your photos it looks like 100% of the frass is pushed out of the mine.

I'll post another photo
It's kind of hard to determine if the pile of frass in the first photo of the Mompha langiella larva is inside the leaf or piled up on the outside but that's what it looked like to me. I'll post another photo from last fall which was taken 11 days after I initially found the larva in which the frass trail has changed appearance. After I had collected the leaf, the larva had moved to a different section of the leaf and started a new mining area.

The mine descriptions on that website are very thorough, and I'm thinking they would have mentioned it if any frass is being pushed out of the leaf. I agree it is difficult to tell in the backlit photo, but if you mean the lump of frass immediately behind the larva, there is a leaf vein cutting across it, so I think that is entirely within the leaf.

It looks to me like the larva in your added photo started out doing something much like the M. langiella larva when it reentered the leaf, and then went back to pushing the frass out as it had been doing before. That is interesting... I wonder if this is something that happens in nature, or if it might have something to do with the wilting of the leaf. Not sure why that would be, just a thought.

You didn't happen to get any other shots of the larva after it left the leaf, did you? A side or ventral view might clear some things up..

I checked the other photos and none were any better than the one posted of the larva when it had exited the leaf.

Interesting indeed
I believe that two different insect spp. are depicted here.

The underside miner with frass deposits around the edge of the mine (images 575936 and 575937) most likely is a chrysomelid beetle larva. There are a few microlep larvae that do this (Charley is on the money to invoke Bedellia and Cosmopterix in this regard), but as far as I know, none of them feeds on Circaea. So, for these two photos, my recommendation is that they should be posted where chrysomelid experts will see them, and if the larva turns out to be a well-characterized species of chrysomelid, then fine, and if not, then we'll go from there.

The upperside miner, with no frass deposits around the margins of the mine (images 575935 and 575938) could be a microlep. If so, I don't recognize it, other than to confirm Charley's diagnosis that it definitely is not Mompha terminella.

I echo Charley's hope, that you have collected these insects and will rear them through. Thanks for sharing this interesting find with us.

Further thoughts
There are apparently no chrysomelids, leaf-mining or otherwise, recorded from Circaea (1). While we're considering other orders, I suppose from what we can see of the larva that we can't say for sure it isn't a sawfly. However, I don't believe I've ever come across a mention of any non-Lepidopteran leafminers pushing out their frass like this. Another moth larva I hadn't mentioned before that does something similar is a tortricid that mines in Ilex verticillata and Nemopanthus mucronatus.

Ilona, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the upper and lower mines are the same, and the upper ones appear to be free of frass deposits because the frass has all been pushed out the leaf's lower epidermis.

I guess we'll all have to keep an eye out for more of these--and Ilona, if there's any way you can find them again and collect them, please do. It seems pretty likely that these mines have not been described before.

leaf mine
On Sept. 22 I went back to the area where I found this mine and now have the leaf in a container. There was still a larva in the leaf. I'm not sure if this was the same one that was in the leaf on Sept. 12. Strangely enough from the time I collected the leaf and brought it home, the larva had moved from the large mine on the leaf and formed a new mine near the base of the leaf. It also looks like there may be additional larvae in and on this leaf. These views are of the underside of the leaf.

I suppose that means that if the leaf starts to dry out, you can offer the larva a fresh one--there are very few leafminers that you can do this with. I find that leaves last longer if I put them in a ziploc bag than in other types of containers. With any luck, you'll get an adult in the spring, but if the larva doesn't survive, Terry may still be able to figure out approximately what it is if you send it to him.

My impression was that the to
My impression was that the top and bottom mines were the same and that all the debris was pushed out on the underside of the leaf. If I have a chance I will look for this one again. It's along a trail which is a fair distance from where I live.

This was the only mine of thi
This was the only mine of this type which I found but I didn't collect it this time. There were a number of other interesting mines along the trail which I'll eventually get around to posting.

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.