Plant Parasites of Europe

leafminers, galls and fungi

Coleophora serratella

Coleophora serratella (Linnaeus, 1761)

common case-bearer

Coleophora serratella mine

Betula pubescens, Belgium, prov. Luxembourg, Bovigny, Chifontaine: mine © Jean-Yves Baugnée

Coleophora serratella juvenile case

very young youth case

Coleophora serratella youth case

Crataegus, Ankeveen: old youth case, after hibernation

Coleophora serratella case

Ulmus, Duin- en Kruidberg: case of full grown larva

Coleophora serratella case

Betula pubescens, Belgium, prov. Luxembourg, Bovigny, Chifontaine: case of full grown larva; © Jean-Yves Baugnée

Coleophora serratella: larval case on Betula pubescens

Betula pubescens, Heerde, lg de Dellen © Hans Jonkman. The case is so young that the teeth, originating from the leaf margin, still are green.

Coleophora serratella: larval case on Betula pubescens

same case, dorsal view


The egg is deposited at the underside of the leaf, usually in a vein axil in the basal half of the leaf. The larva emerges through the micropyle (on top), and first crawls some distance over the leaf, before penetrating. The strongly curved youth case is is a “composite leaf case”, the adult case is a “tubular leaf case”. The adult case s trivalved, about 7 mm in length; the mouth angle is around 30°. The case is straw coloured and almost always has a toothed dorsal keel (remnant of the margin of the leaf from which the case was cut).

host plants

Rather polyphagous on woody plants

Alnus glutinosa, incana, viridis; Amelanchier ovalis; Betula nana, pendula, pubescens; Carpinus betulus; Chaenomeles; Corylus avellana; Cotoneaster; Crataegus monogyna; Cydonia; Eriobotrya japonica; Forsythia; Hippophae; Malus domestica, sylvestris; Mespilus germanica Myrica gale; Ostrya; Populus; Prunus; Quercus pubescens; Ribes; Salix caprea; Sorbus aria, aucuparia; Spiraea bumalda, x vanhouttei; Ulmus glabra, minor.

Despite all polyphagy, the species is, at least in the Netherlands, by far most common on Alder and Birch. References to Rosaceae often actually refer to coracipennella (see below).

The larvae easily stray to other plants; this explains the reference by Buhr (1936a) of serratela as an occasional miner on Ribes; also the reference by Szőcs (1977a) to Geranium must thus be explained.


Larvae start feeding in September and continue to the end of October. They hibernate in their case, and resume feeding in April. After some weeks they exchange their youth case for the definite one, and continue till early June (Emmet ao, 1996a).

This time table is not without exceptions: the picture above of the young youth case by Jean-Yves Baugnée was on April 24th, 2011.


BE recorded (Phegea, 2009).

NE recorded (Kuchlein & de Vos, 1999a;, 2009); very common.

LUX recorded (Fauna Europaea, 2009).

distribution within Europe

Europe, except the Balkan Peninsula (Fauna Europaea, 2009).



Coleophora fuscedinella Zeller, 1849.

Where in older publications the names fuscedinella and serratella are both used, “serratella” can probably best be interpreted as coracipennella.


It is impossible to distinguish the larvae or cases of C. coracipennella, prunifoliae, serratella, and spinella; only breeding, and to some extent the host plant, can lead to an identification. Coleophora nigricella (Stephens, 1834) formally is a synonym of C. coracipennella, but mostly the name is used, inadvertently, as a collective term for these four species.

Coleophorid larvae are quite active, and on their way to a suitable pupation site can easily stray onto a plant where they would never feed. Such tramps easily occasion erroneous host plant associations. Because the four “nigricella‘s” together are quite numerous, the number of such incidental and erroneous references to host plants in this group is considerable.

Kemner (1917a) described a mass occurrence in Sweden, that continued for several years and locally caused 50-90% defoliation of the birches.

Sich (1904a) and Coshan (1974a) presented a beautiful description of the biology and morphology of the larvae.


Ahr (1966a), Bachmaier (1965a), Baldizzone (1979a, 1984a, 1990b, 2004a, 2020a), Beiger (1979a), Biesenbaum & van der Wolf (1999a), Buhr (1935a,b, 1936a, 1937a, 1964a), Cobos Suarez (1988a), Corley, Rosete, Romão ao (2015a), Coshan (1974a), Drăghia (1968b), Emmet, Langmaid, Bland ao (1996a), Gebiola, Bernardo, Ribes & Gibson (2015a), Haase (1942a), Hartig (1939a), Hering (1921a, 1923a, 1924b, 1927b, 1930e, 1932b, 1957a), Huber (1969a), Huemer (1988a, 2012a), Huemer & Erlebach (2003a), Ivinskis & Savenkov (1991a), Kenmer (1917a), Klimesch (1950c), Kollár (2007a), Kollár & Hrubík (2009a, Kuchlein & Donner (1993a), Kuchlein & de Vos (1999a), Leutsch (2011a), Maček (1999a), Marek & Krampl (1990a), Michaelis (1983a), Michalska (1976a), Nel (1992b,c), Nowakowski (1954a), Patzak (1974a), Razowski (1990a), Robbins (1991a), Schmid (2019a), Schütze (1931a), Sefrová (2005a), Sich (1904a), Sønderup (1949a), Stammer (2016a), Starý (1930a), Sterling (1984a), Stolnicu (2007a), Suire (1961a), Szőcs (1977a, 11981a), Toll (1952am 1962a), Viramo (1962a), Zoerner (1969a, 1970a).

Last modified 13.iv.2023