N A T U R K U N D L I C H E S   I N F O R M A T I O N S S Y S T E M

Stigmella alnetella (Stainton, 1856)

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Nepticula alnetella Stainton, 1856: 43.
Type locality: Great Britain, Darlington
Type: Lectotype : Great Britain, Darlington [on Alnus glutinosa], e.l. 6.v. 1855 [(Law)] (coll. Stainton), genitalia preparation BM21608, in coll. NHM, London (designated by Schoorl & Wilkinson 1986: 235, see Nieukerken 2014).

Synonyms, misspellings, wrong determinations, etc.:


, schematic      
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view

Description of adults: : "Wingspan: 3.9-4.5 mm. Head: frontal tuft ferruginous; collar dark bronzy fuscous; scape shining yellowish white, usually edged with silvery to metallic grey; antenna longer than half length of forewing. Forewing: area proximal to fascia metallic dark brown to almost black, dorsum coppery brown to golden; fascia postmedial, shining silvery; distal to fascia dark purple fuscous; terminal cilia of same colour as distal part of wing, tipped silvery grey at apex. Hindwing grey with silvery-tipped cilia at apex. Abdomen dark fuscous." (Nieukerken 2014).
: "Wingspan: 4.3-4.8 mm. Head: scape yellowish white, without grey edge; antenna approximately half length of forewing. Otherwise similar to male." (Nieukerken 2014).


The species is restricted to Europe, but occurs throughout the continent except Ireland, Iceland and parts of southern Europe, as well as European Russia (Karsholt & Nieukerken 2011, Nieukerken 2014).


S. alnetella occurs in two generation per year in southern and central Europe, but only in one generation in Scandinavia (Nieukerken 2014).

Stages in development:

Mine, schematic      
Picture from: Kurz Michael (redrawn from Johansson et al. 1990)
Detailed view

Description of early stages following Nieukerken (2014):

Egg. The egg is laid on the lower surface of a leaf, close to a rib.

Larva. The larva is pale yellow without a distinct spot on prothorax. It has a green intestine and a pale brownish head. The larvae feed on Alnus glutinosa, Alnus alnobetula and Alnus cordata. The mine is a long slender gallery towards margin of leaf, frequently following a vein or the margin of the leaf. The frass is throughout a thin central line occupying approximately one-third width of the mine. The cocoon is pale brown.


-genitalia, schematic -genitalia, schematic    
Picture from: Kurz Michael (redrawn from Johansson et al. 1990)
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael (redrawn from Johansson et al. 1990)
Detailed view

Genitalia. "Vinculum with V-shaped emargination. Uncus with posterior corners produced into distinctly pointed processes. Gnathos with long horns. Tegumen broad, margin dentate. Valva with distal half narrow. Transtilla bilobed, ventral arms absent. Aedeagus small." (Nieukerken 2014).

Genitalia. Corpus bursae almost completely covered with prominent pectinations. Segment VIII with prominent, strongly sclerotized, sinuous structure." (Nieukerken 2014).


"S. alnetella is easily separated from all other species of the betulicola group by its metallic shining forewings, and from the Betula-feeding S. continuella by its dark collar (continuella has the yellowish white collar). In the male genitalia the two horn-like processes from the uncus are characteristic. The prominent sinuous structure in segment VIII separates the female genitalia of alnetella from those of all other species." (Nieukerken 2014). Mines of both S. alnetella and Stigmella glutinosae (Stainton, 1858) are very similar and it is not possible to separate the vacated mines (Nieukerken 2014). Tenanted mines however, may be distinguished by the larva, having a spot on the prothorax in S. glutinosae, which misses in S. alnetella.

Worth knowing:


Karsholt, O. & E. J. van Nieukerken 2011. Nepticulidae. In - Karsholt, O. & E. J. van Nieukerken (eds.). Lepidoptera, Moths. – Fauna Europaea version 2.4, http://www.faunaeur.org [online 2014.02.17].
Nieukerken, E. J. van 2014: Nepticulidae and Opostegidae of the world. - URL: http://nepticuloidea.info/ [online 2014.02.17].

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2014.02.17
Kurz Michael: 2016.06.15
Kurz Michael: 2016.06.26
not reviewed