Curious Leaf Cuts

A week ago today, I stopped by the Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area on my way home from a meeting. Gray birch and various oaks are abundant there, so I thought I’d look around for leaf mines of eriocraniid moths on the newly opened leaves. It turned out to be a little early for them, but I spotted what appeared to be the very beginnings of the mines of a new species of agromyzid fly Julia and I discovered on honeysuckle in Alabama a few years ago. Today we returned to the same honeysuckle plant and found that some of the mines were already completed,  and they were in fact identical to the Alabama mines. So I collected them (fortunately this species pupates within the leaf), and with any luck I’ll have some Massachusetts specimens to include in the type series when I describe the species with Owen Lonsdale. In the intervening week, the birch-mining eriocraniids had come and gone. Oh well. You’ve got to be quick with some of these leafminers.

Anyway, during our walk I noticed these peculiar curving cuts in a leaf, and I was curious whether anyone can figure out what made them. Unlike most mysteries I post here, I already know the answer, which I’ll reveal in due time…
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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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9 Responses to Curious Leaf Cuts

  1. David Almquist says:

    They look almost like partial cuts from leafcutter bees, assuming that the leaves are small enough for that.

  2. xrisfg says:

    I know! I observe the same “damage” in my garden every year. Took me years to catch them in the act.

  3. Erin Hilley says:

    Leafcutter bees (Megachilidae). A group of incredibly adorable bees.

  4. McMackin, Rebecca (BBP) says:

    Leafcutter Bees! An easy one.

    Rebecca McMackin
    Director of Horticulture
    Brooklyn Bridge Park
    o: 718 724 6439
    brooklynbridgepark.org | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  5. Laura Hughes says:

    Maybe from a leaf-rolling weevil.

  6. cgracie2015 says:

    So, why don’t the leaf cutter bees finish their work?

    • xrisfg says:

      They got interrupted. They’re easily disturbed. They’re vulnerable to attack and predation while cutting. Sort of like trying to chow down a steak in a lion cage.

  7. Pingback: No, Not Leafcutter Bees | BugTracks

  8. lynn forrest says:

    Could it be the European Snout Beetle Phyllobius oblongus L. ?
    http://www.forestpests.org/vermont/europeansnoutbeetle.html

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