Plant Parasites of Europe

leafminers, galls and fungi

Phyllonorycter messaniella

Phyllonorycter messaniella (Zeller, 1846)

garden midget

Phyllonorycter messaniella: mine on Castanea sativa

Castanea sativa, Belgium, prov. Antwerp, Retie, Prinsenpark © Carina Van Steenwinkel

Phyllonorycter messaniella: mine on Castanea sativa

mine with exuvium

Phyllonorycter messaniella: frass pattern

frass pattern

Phyllonorycter messaniella mine

Quercus x hispanica, Amsterdam-Oost; most mines occur in the basal half of the leaf

Phyllonorycter messaniella mine

a young and a fully developed mine

Phyllonorycter messaniella mine

the right one of the two above, lighted from behind (no larva or pupa to be seen: the mine contained a white parasitoid cocoon).

Phyllonorycter messaniella mine

pupa in the mine

Phyllonorycter messaniella mine

same mine, opened


Small, oval, lower-surface tentiform mine, 9-14 mm long, mostly between two lateral veins. The lower epidermis with a single sharp fold (sometimes forked near its end). Pupa in very flimsy cocoon, that contains a bit of frass laterally and at the rear end.

host plants

Polyphagous on woody plants.

Carpinus betulus; Castanea sativa; Fagus sylvatica; Prunus; Quercus x hispanica, ilex, petraea, robur, suber; Tilia cordata.

Quercus species are the most important hostplants.


Larvae in July and October (Emmet, Watkinson & Wilson, 1985a), but sometimes an additional winter generation (see the note below).


BE recorded (Phegea, 2009).

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

LUX not recorded (Fauna Europaea, 2009).

distribution within Europe

Europe south of the line Ireland, Britain, Denmark, Ukraine; also Macaronesian Islands (Fauna Europaea, 2009).




Lithocolletis messaniella.

parasitoids, predators

Achrysocharoides parva; Pnigalio mediterraneus; Sympiesis sericeicornis.


In Britain a third larva generation has been found in the period December – March; the hibernating larvae do exclusively occur on Quercus ilex, that keeps its foliage during winter. How the species hibernates in regions without wintergreen oaks is unclear (Emmet, 1975b)

The mines illustrated above stem from a similar winter generation; Q. x turneri is a hybrid between Q. ilex and Q. robur and keeps its leaves during winter. Young mines, with active larvae, were found January 20th, kept in an unheated room, and provided pupae a month later.

Gregor & Patočka (2001a) wrote that the cocoon of the winter generation is almost entirely covered with frass. This does not apply to the Dutch material.

The species has been introduced into New Zealand and Australia, and has turned out as and aggressive invasive. The species not only lives on oaks there but also on other genera, viz. Nothofagus; it is considered a pest (New, 1981a).


Aguiar & Karsholt (2006a), Amsel & Hering (1933a), Baldizzone (2004a), Bengtsson & Johansson (2011a), Braggion (2013a), Buhr (1930a), Corley (2005a), Corley, Ferreira, Grundy, ao (2018a), Deutsch (2012a), Deutschmann (2008a), Emmet (1975b), Emmet, Watkinson & Wilson (1985a), Gomboc & Kirichenko (2022a), Gregor & Patočka (2001a), Harper & Langmaid (1978a), Hartig (1939a), Hering (1927a, 1932e,g, 1934a, 1936b, 1957a, 1967a), Hubble (2013b), Huisman, Koster, van Nieukerken & Ulenberg (2003a), Huisman, Kuchlein, van Nieukerken ao (1986a), Kirichenko, Augustin & Kenis (2018a), Klimesch (1950c, 1979a), Kuchlein & Donner (1993a), Kuchlein & de Vos (1999a), Laštuvka & Laštuvka (2007a, 2014a), Mifsud & Askew (2019a), Nel & Varenne (2014a), New (1981a), van Nieukerken, Gielis, Huisman ao (1993a), Olivella (2002a), Patočka & Turčáni (2005a), Robbins (1991a), Sammut & Mifsud (2008a), Schütze (1931a), Stolnicu (2007a, 2008a), Szőcs (1977a), Tomov & Dimitrov (2007a), Tourlan (1980a), Triberti & Braggio (2011a), Ureche (2010a).

Last modified 5.i.2023