Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
John van der Linden, Contributor


First I'd like to introduce some of the insects I have spent time with in my work as a naturalist and citizen scientist.

Stem miners travel just beneath the epidermis (outer skin) of an herbaceous plant stem, leaving a visible feeding trail. Sometimes the trail is raised, like a molehill winding through a lawn or a vein bulging under human skin. Other times the stem epidermis does not lift or bulge much and the miner's trail is simply discolored relative to the ground color of the stem. Bark miners occupy the equivalent niche in woody stems.

Stem borers, like stem miners, may do some feeding right under the epidermis -- but their activities are not restricted to this region. Instead, they are often found deeper inside the stem, tunneling vertically through the ground tissue (such as the pith) and/or the vascular tissue. Sometimes nearly all of the stem interior is consumed, leaving little more than a flimsy collar of epidermis (at which point the plant may fall over!). More often, a stem borer's tunnel occupies only part of the stem in cross-section, and enough interior stem tissue remains for the plant to do its thing more or less normally. Affected stems sometimes discolor or swell, and borer larvae often drill holes in the epidermis through which they enter, exit, or expel frass. It is also common for there to be little or no external sign of a stem borer's presence. Here, I group stem borers by order and include genus names of hosts along with thumbnails. I also lump petiole borers in with the stem borers.


Phlox: Verbena: Andropogon: Polymnia:

Parthenocissus: Elymus: Gentiana: Arnoglossum:

Xerophyllum: Hieracium: Veronica: Equisetum:

Prenanthes: Urtica (two species): Pedicularis:

Solidago: Hydrophyllum: Artemisia (two species): Lactuca:

Robinia: Zizia: Cirsium: Veronica:

Yucca: Ambrosia: Verbena: Lysichiton:

Scrophularia: Impatiens: Bidens: Nelumbo:

Juglans: Heracleum: Aesculus: Prunus (two species):

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