The other day I mentioned that the Ice Abstract I posted reminded me of a leaf miner’s trail. These are very small larvae, mostly moths but also flies, wasps, and others, that spend their developmental time within leaves feeding on the mesophyll, disfiguring and often killing the leaf.
In this case, we are seeing two Common Aspen Leaf Miners-Phyllocnistis populiella that have exited the leaf and will fall to the ground and pupate into an adult moth. I’ve never photographed an adult, but you can see one here on BugGuide.
The leaf miner has become a pest of huge importance in crops with their numbers increasing while insecticides kill off many of their larval predators. The meadow where I found these has many young aspens and quite often the leaves show signs of miner depredation.
The insect world is filled with wonder. Out of evolutionary necessity they keep presenting us with ingenious ways to flourish and survive. Not all their behavior is beneficial to humans but if left on its own will generally keep ecology in balance. Most often out of balance situations arise from human interference.