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Family Gracillariidae - Leaf Blotch Miner Moths

mine on black locust - Chrysaster ostensackenella Stem miner, Arnoglossum - Marmara Phyllonorycter clemensella - Phyllocnistis Leaf mine - Cremastobombycia Loxahatchee Refuge leaf miner on 2021 1 Ding Darling leaf miner on Piscidia piscipula D3414 2021 1 Hodges#0644 - Caloptilia violacella Pennsylvania Moth - Cameraria corylisella
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Gracillarioidea (Ribbed Cocoon-maker and Leaf Blotch Miner Moths)
Family Gracillariidae (Leaf Blotch Miner Moths)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Gracillariidae Stainton, 1854
Explanation of Names
Gracillariidae from the type genus Gracilaria (Zeller), Latin meaning "graceful, slender." (1)
D. R. Davis, in an email to Charley Eiseman dated 11/21/12, reported that in America north of Mexico there are 323 described species and 104 known undescribed species.
Wingspan 4-20 mm
Below is a guide to the subfamilies of Gracillariidae found in North America north of Mexico. The images included are meant to be illustrative of the general appearance of each subfamily as an aid for narrowing down possibilities for identification. While the commonest elements of forewing maculation in each subfamily are represented, many patterns are not.

Gracillariinae                                                                                                                                                                          Phyllocnistinae


Ornixolinae                                                                                                                                                                                                           Oecophyllembiinae


Marmarinae                                                                                                                                            Parornichinae


Small to minute moths associated with host plants. Top of head rough- to smooth-scaled. Antennae long. FW usually without an accessory cell, HW has a hump along the costal margin near the base in some species. Many rest in a "tripod" stance with the anterior part of the body elevated and the wing tips touching the surface on which the moth is resting.
Summer, fall
Life Cycle
Larvae produce a "blotch mine" on leaf and the leaf is often folded, then tied on with silk and then they feed. They usually pupate in their mines.
Some (all?) are hypermetamorphic. The first stages are a flattened larva without properly developed legs, and with highly modified mandibles, generally "scissor-like" shaped. They serve to saw the plant tissue, separating the cuticle from the epidermis. These early stages are sap feeding. The second developmental stages have the typical caterpillar shape of Lepidoptera, with legs and prolegs, with a spinneret and well-developed chewing mmouth parts to feed on tissues. This larval stage has been called a "tissue feeding form" Trägardh, I. 1913. Contributions towards the comparative morphology of the trophi of the lepidopterous leaf-miners. Arkiv för Zoologi 8: 148
Largest family of leaf miner moths(2)
Print References
Covell, pp.446-448 (3)
Cranshaw, pp. 214-215 (4)
Borror, p.507 (5)
Internet References
leaf mine and live adult image (Jeremy Tatum, Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island)
Scielo. A new genus and species of leaf miner (Lepidoptera, Gracillariidae) for Chile associated to the native tree Lithraea caustica. Notes on life cycle.
Works Cited
1.An accentuated list of the British Lepidoptera, with hints on the derivation of the names.
Anonymous. 1858. The Entomological Societies of Oxford and Cambridge.
2.Hidden Company that Trees Keep: Life from Treetops to Root Tips
James B. Nardi. 2023. Princeton University Press.
3.Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America
Charles V. Covell, Jr. 2005.
4.Garden Insects of North America : The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs (Princeton Field Guides)
Whitney Cranshaw. 2004. Princeton University Press.
5.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
Norman F. Johnson, Charles A. Triplehorn. 2004. Brooks Cole.