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Pyracantha Leaf Mining Moth

Phyllonorycter leucographella

Pyracantha Leaf Mining Moth, Firethorn Leaf Miner

A close up of a Phyllonorycter leucographella Pyracantha leaf-mining moth against a wooden background

Photo

by Donald Hobern. CC BY 4.0

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The Pyracantha Leaf Mining Moth is a small insect that infests various plants within the Rosaceae family, but their primary host is Pyracantha coccinea. As tiny caterpillars, Pyracantha Leaf Miners feed invasively within the tissue of leaves. As they eat from inside the leaf, they leave behind a distinctive, silvery blister. The silvery blister is one of the main symptoms produced by this moth and is called a leaf mine. Infestations can vary in severity year to year. The majority of plants retain full health.
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Traits

Larvae can damage foliage from mining behaviour.
These insects have little impact on tree vigour where most damage is aesthetic.

Appearance

Adult: Pyracantha leaf-mining moths possess orange wings with white stripey markings. They are so small so are rarely spotted by gardeners. Larvae: The caterpillars are also tiny, and may first be noticed from the silvery shiny blotches on the leaves of Pyracantha plants. Mines: The mines begin to arise in Summer, but adult moths are active from as early as spring. Mines begin following the central vein of the leaf. They begin linear, but start to broaden creating a large, white-silvery blotch that can sometimes span the whole upper surface of the leaf. Once fully grown, the larvae leave the leaf, causing it to fold upwards. Gardeners tend to miss the mines for this reason.

Symptoms

Mines following the central leaf vein. Silvery-white blotches on leaves. Leaves brown and dry. Folded leaves.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Gracillariidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Mediterranean, Europe and Western Asia

Biological treatment

Although mining insects harm the leaves of plants, the overall health is always retained. Good housekeeping, such as pruning hedges and removing leaves which are infested, will aid controlling numbers the following year, limiting the damage caused. Additionally, picking off infected leaves during Autumn will improve any infestations in the coming year. Be sure to dispose of these appropriately to avoid further contamination.

Chemical treatment

Unfortunately, there are currently no chemical treatments available for home gardeners that will give sufficient control over this pest. Chemicals applied to plants would also harm the beneficial insects which control them; this could exacerbate infestations in future seasons.

Attracts

Firethorn

Pyracantha spp.

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