Northwestern Cherry Miners

Amazingly, I managed to finish catching up on sorting my backlog of tens of thousands of photos before the end of 2013.  The next round of sorting involves my hundreds of actual reared insect specimens.  I already got all my agromyzid flies labeled and shipped off for identification, and today I started tackling the eulophid wasps, which are the parasitoids I most commonly get out of leaf mines.  I like to have the label data as complete as possible, so it’s time to crowdsource some more plant identifications!

Last October in Chelan County, Washington, I found some leaf mines on what I believe is some kind of Prunus (the genus that includes cherry, plum, and peach), but it isn’t one I’m familiar with and I haven’t been able to find a satisfying match by searching for photos of the various Prunus species known to occur in Washington.  The leaves and buds looked like this:


I found two different leaf mines on this plant, which as I remember it was a sapling or small tree rather than a shrub.  One was an empty agromyzid fly mine (identifiable as such by the pattern of frass inside):


It’s a shame this mine was empty, because the only agromyzid in the world known to mine Prunus leaves is Phytomyza persicae, which is specific to peach (Prunus persica) (and its mine isn’t quite like this).

The other mines were these “underside tentiform” ones, which could be made by Parornix or Phyllonorycter (both moths in the family Gracillariidae)…


…but I happen to know these were Phyllonorycter mines because I got some adults in the spring:


Some of these mines, instead of producing moths, produced eulophid parasitoids (I believe these are a male and female of the same species):


…and that’s whose specimen label I’m currently trying to fill out.  So, anyone know what the host plant is?

About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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2 Responses to Northwestern Cherry Miners

  1. David Ferguson says:

    Looks like probably Prunus emarginata. The two glands near the base of the leaves are a good clue to this one. The leaf shape varies, and the ones on the east side of the Cascades are supposed to be a different variety from the ones on the west side. Rhamnus came to mind as well, but doesn’t really fit.

    • I guess that must be it… I’d spent some time staring at photos of all the possible Prunus photos, and the leaf texture seemed all wrong on that species, but it seems like the texture varies as well as the shape. The twig color and speckles here look like a good match, as do those glands. Thanks again! By the way, someone at the U of AZ herbarium was kind enough to check specimens of Coursetia glandulosum against the photos in my other post, and she agreed with your assessment.

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