Friday, 30 May 2008

Hoverfly leaf-miner

Leaf-miners belong to one of 4 groups:

  • Micromoths
  • Flies
  • Beetles (weevils)
  • Sawflies
The flies are usually Agromyzid flies, which are all leaf-miners, as far as I can work out. But I found this miner on Navelwort - Umbilicus rupestris:

The list of options for that foodplant is very small (one micromoth and one fly), and this looks like a fly mine, so I'd have to opt for Cheilosia semifasciata - which is a hoverfly.

However (and this is where it gets very interesting), the other Cheilosia sp. aren't leaf-miners. Information about Cheilosia semifasciata is scant - there is no image of the adult in the standard reference - but it appears to be an oligophage: it mines plants that belong to a single family (another host plant is Orpine - Sedum telephium). So it appears that one member of a hoverfly family has independently discovered leaf-mining, and on a plant that is not mined by any other fly. Interesting.

Edit: it turns out that this hoverfly is extraordinarily rare, and I'll be monitoring the situation over the next week or so.

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