02.12.2020-1 Aspen Leaf Miner

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.

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Closeup Photography, Insect Behavior, macro photography, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to 02.12.2020-1 Aspen Leaf Miner

  1. Andrew says:

    If you can find an occupied leaf mine they are fascinating to examine under a microscope (not microwave as the predictive text suggested) and occasionally they are quite beautiful. Backlit with a light box you can just photograph the leaf with a macro lens.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your words brought to mind the words “dwelt a miner” from “Oh My Darling, Clementine.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. bluebrightly says:

    Mesophyll? Have to look that up. I’m impressed that not only did you photograph the leaf, but you found out about what you’re photographing. (The inner tissue of a leaf, well, that makes sense – meso-phyll).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was pretty sure what I was seeing but BugGuide.net came to the rescue. As it turns out, a local naturalist specializes in them and when I bought his book I was able to identify them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bluebrightly says:

        Good for you for pursuing it. I have that site saved, but as with so many things, the wealth of sites saved means I forget what’s there, and if I look, there’s so much to scroll through! Another rainy task that never gets done: edit all those bookmarks!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for being instrumental in my continuing education and for showing a fascinating photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres says:

    They remind me of snake-like pictographs I’ve seen. The one I’m most familiar with is the citrus leaf miner. They certainly can cause a lot of damage, although they can be controlled. Speaking of biological control, there’s a parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in the citrus leaf miner tunnels or their larvae, and in older trees, particularly, they can keep the leaf miners under control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Parasitic wasps are our friends. People hear wasps, think bald-faced or yellow jackets and run for the Raid. It’s too bad they aren’t better appreciated. Most things in ecology do just fine until we decide to help.


  6. Eliza Waters says:

    Agreed, pesticides are never a good choice in my book. Nature is built to keep things in balance and human interference nearly always invites disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. krikitarts says:

    What a nice bit of luck to be able to catch two larvae that are ready to metamorphose. Their tracks in the leaf are a thing of wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was lucky but this meadow has a lot of small aspens, it gets mowed annually to keep the meadow environment near a swamp, so there are a lot of opportunities. Aren’t they amazing? Just so much to wonder at out there. Not enough time.


  8. Nice Steve! The patterns are fun to photograph!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That is one beautiful pattern this miner makes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Now these sure make pretty patterns. Fabulous find, Steve!

    Liked by 1 person

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