Plant Parasites of Europe

leafminers, galls and fungi




The ± 900 European species of this family have strongly divergent habits. Many species just live freely on the plants. However, most mining sawflies also belong to the Tenthredinidae (in particular the subfamily Heterarthrinae).


The genus Salix consists of a large number of species. Mainly the mountains and boreal regions of the northern hemisphere are particularly rich. Most species can be separated with difficulty, also because they readily hybridise, especially where the natural distribution patterns have been disrupted by human activities. This is the typical picture of species swarm at the start of its evolution. Despite the seemingly shallow differences between the different Salix species, the species of the Pontania complex show a surprisingly close association with individual willow species. Also in the Pontania complex the differences between the species are minute, sometimes even just statistical: this also is a swarm of young species. The evolution of the Pontania swarm is superimposed on that of the Salix swarm!


Tenthredinidae mines are medium-sized to large blotch mines without in initial corridor. In principle they are upper-surface, but the layer of parenchyma that is left at the floor of the mine is so thin -and also dries out quickly- that the mines appear full-depth.

Traditionally much emphasis is put on the oviposition site (near the leaf margin or in the centre of the leaf) and whether the frass in concentrated in the first part of the mine. The last character is not really reliable. If a larva still is present, this enables a much more secure identification.

Interestingly, all species lie on their back in the mine (with exception of Pseudodineura, a Ranunculus miner).

The many non-mining Tenthredinidae are fairly polyphagous, but contrariwise the leafmining species are extremely strict monophagous. Most species hibernate as pupa.

The larvae of the mining species are strongly adapted to their way of life, among other things in the more or less strong reduction of the thoracic feet and prolegs, and the extreme flattening of the head that has become chisel-shaped, with the mouthparts projecting anteriorly. They all belong to the subfamily Heterarthrinae. There is one exception, viz. the genus Pseudodineura, just mentioned. This is much less well adapted, with a globular head and mouthparts working downwards; this genus belongs in the subfamily Nematinae.


Within the Tenthredinidae the mining larvae are characterised by a strongly, almost chisel-like, head, except in Endophytus and Pseudodineura, two genera that stand apart in the family, and do not seem to be yet fully adapted to the mining way of life. Another character is that the sternites of at least the thorax, but often also one or more abdominal segments, bear a dark spot.

key to the larvae of the mining genera

1a head globular, mouth directed downwards; on ferns or Ranunculaceae => 2

1b head strongly flattened, mouth directed anteriorly; on other plant groups => 4

2a on ferns: Aneugmenus

2b on Ranunculaceae => 3

3a on Anemone nemorosa: Endophytus

3b on other Ranunculaceae: Pseudodineura

4a pro- meso- and metanotum each with 2 pairs of black transverse lines: Hinatara

4b thorax dorsally not that strongly ornated => 5

5a prolegs missing; feet short, 2-segmented; their base (coxa) with 3 small spines: Profenusa

5b prolegs present; feet variably, coxa different => 6

6a terminal abdominal segment without prolegs => 7

6b terminal abdominal segment with prolegs; they are close together, may even be fused => 9

7a 9th abdominal segment ventrally with a group of small warts, mostly darkly pigmented: Fenusa (subgenus Kaliofenusa)

7b no such group => 8

8a shields on thorax blackish brown: Fenusa

8b shields on thorax less strongly chitinised, pale brown: Fenella

9a prolegs on abdominal segments 2-7 (on Rubus, Geum): Metallus

9b prolegs on abdominal segments 2-8 (on other plants) => 10

10a feet 3-segmented, squat; pupation in a disc-shaped cocoon within the mine: Heterarthrus

10b feet 4-5 jointed; pupation outside the mine => 11

11a feet 4-segmented: Parna

11b feet 5-segmented, rather slender => 12

12a laterally with some black spots on each segment: Scolioneura

12b laterally all white: Fenusella


Altenhofer (1980a,b), Gauld & Bolton (1988a), Kopelke (1998a), Leppänen, Altenhofer, Liston & Nyman (2012a), Liston (1993b), Lorenz & Kraus, (1957a), Smith (1971a).

Last modified 20.i.2020