Leafminers For All!

Two years and two weeks ago, I announced the completion of the first edition of my Leafminers of North America e-book.

It’s been gratifying to see more and more people all across North America looking for leaf mines, successfully using the keys in my book to identify what they’ve found, and documenting new host and distribution records as well as previously unknown mines in the iNaturalist project I created.

But some of the most enthusiastic leaf mine hunters don’t have my book, and I have no doubt that the $90 price is a barrier to some. So I’ve decided to make the first edition available on a sliding scale. To get access to the full first edition, all you have to do is use this link to send a payment of any amount ($5 or more), entering “leafminer book” in the “Add a note” field, along with the email address where you’d like to receive the link.

Or you can become a patron at $5 a month, and you’ll get the whole first edition right away as well as start receiving the second edition in monthly installments.

Anyone who contributes (or has already contributed) $90, either all at once or cumulatively, gets a lifetime subscription to updates. I’m about halfway through releasing the second edition, and the portion I’ve done is already more than 200 pages longer than the corresponding portion of the first edition. In addition to new host and distribution records and previously unknown mines, I’ve been adding photos of adults and mines for species that weren’t illustrated previously; names of newly described species; new natural history information from recently published papers; and other new observations that haven’t yet been reported in peer-reviewed literature.

The new discoveries are showing no sign of slowing down, so I expect to start in on the third edition soon after I finish the second. The latest came the day before yesterday: while conducting a botanical inventory in Southborough, MA, I spotted a leaf mine on a young grapevine that I recognized right away as something never before documented on grape.

Here’s the same mine a few hours later, after I got it home and had access to a better camera:

Everything about this mine, including the two yellow larvae feeding side by side, is consistent with Orchestomerus eisemani, heretofore known as a Virginia creeper specialist. Adults of the other eastern Orchestomerus species, O. marionis, have been collected on grape, but if that species were a leafminer I would think someone would have noticed its mines before now. I’m betting this is O. eisemani trying out a new host, a hunch supported by the presence of several vacated mines on Virginia creeper a few meters away—which, incidentally, is the first evidence of this species in Worcester County, a slight extension of its known range. It’s the next county over from my own, albeit way over at the other end. I wonder how long I’ll have to wait to see O. eisemani in my own yard.

Yesterday morning the larvae had extended their mine considerably, still feeding side by side…

…and overnight they popped out and burrowed into the soil at the bottom of the jar I had placed the leaf in. With any luck, they’ll emerge as adults in a few weeks and I’ll be able to confirm their identity.

I may or may not get around to reporting the result here, but you can be sure it will make an appearance in the third edition of Leafminers of North America!

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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4 Responses to Leafminers For All!

  1. Salman Raza says:

    Wonderful Work
    Prof Salman Raza Principal Government Degree Boys College 5L New Karachi Pakistan College Education Department Government of Sindh Province Pakistan Prof of Zoology World Renowned Zoologist and Entomologist at 🇵🇰🎖

  2. Chris says:

    Talk about the Energizer bunny ,,,

  3. Lisa Gilliland says:

    greetings! Would love to purchase but link isn’t working – any suggestions? thanks!

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