Letter | Published:

Burrowing Larvæ

Nature volume 25, page 529 | Download Citation



IN his letter ante p. 265, Dr. Hagen states that he had “been informed by M. Lesquereux that a large number of magnolia leaves, from the Tertiary of Alaska, show serpentine trails not larger than a thread, running all over the leaves, apparently under the epithelium,” and Dr. Hagen evidently believes them to be the mines or burrows of some Tineid larvæ. Precisely such mines are now made in this country, in the leaves of magnolias, by a larva of the genus Phyllocnistis, Zell. The moth has not been bred from the larvæ, but the mine and larvæ are indistinguishable from those made by Phyllocnislis liriodendronella, Clem., in leaves of Liriodendron tulipifera, and doubtless it is the same species in both of these allied trees. “What is a species?” however, is a doubtful question in Phyllocnistis, at least in our American species. No species of this or any other genus is known to burrow in the leaves of any of the other genera of plants named in Dr. Hagen's letter besides Magnolia, Liquidambar, and Sassifras. Another Phyllocnistis mines the leaves of Liquidambar, and has been described by me under the name of P. liquidambar-isella, but it is probably identical with P. vitifoliella, Cham. The mine is similar to, but distinct from, that of P. liricdendronella. The larva which mines Sassafras leaves is that of Gracilaria sassafracella, Cham., but it leaves the mine at a very early stage of larval life, when the mine is too small to be recognised in a fossil leaf, unless it has been unusually well preserved. In this connection I will add that I distinctly remember having somewhere seen a figure, by Lesquereux I think, of a fossil leaf of a species of Acer, on which there were several blotches, one of which bore a strong resemblance to the mine of Lithocolletis aceriella, now made in leaves of Acer saccharinum; but as I saw only the figure, and not the fossil, I cannot be certain that it was a mine of that larva.

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  1. Covington, Ky., U.S.A., March 10

    • V. T. CHAMBERS


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