Recording/saving leaf mines

I’ve been looking into recording leaf mines recently and I was just wondering if anyone does this and what your recording method is? I’ve taken photos front and back and with as much detail as possible but I’m not sure if I should keep the leaf and press it in case I need to refer to something I’ve missed? The caterpillars are usually gone by now so keeping the leaf shouldn’t be unethical but I’d like to see other peoples’ methods.

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You can check projects like https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/leafminers-of-europe
If insect is gone, pressing the leaf sounds good! If it’s still there, trying to raise it can be very valuable.

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If you’d like to rear them, check out this link: https://bugtracks.wordpress.com/rearing/

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Often a good photo of the mine, with clear enough photos of the host plant to ID that, are sufficient to identify the mine to species.
Note that there are some useful observation fields to tag miner observations. My favourites are “Animal Sign and Song”=“Evidence of Feeding”, “Interaction->Herbivore of”=[the host plant species], and “type of herbivory”=“Miner in leaves”. We use those in the New Zealand project https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/invertebrates-eating-plants-in-new-zealand
Different parts of the world have settled on different observation fields. For example Australia’s https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australian-leaf-miners project uses “Host Plant ID” instead of “Interaction->Herbivore of”.

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Don’t have a lot of input other than I think it’s a great area of things to dedicate time to. It all seems relatively under-documented. But easy to document since the mines won’t get up and go away when you get close to them, like lots of stuff likes to do.

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As an aside, here’s a good example of why it’s worth looking out for leaf mines in collected plants. The New Zealand leaf miner Sabulopteryx botanica, was first noticed by a botanist, Alan Esler, who found the leaf mine, still with a dead caterpillar inside, in a plant he’d pressed in 1961. Despite repeated searching by entomologists, it was not found at that site in the field (the host plant is rare and threatened), and it was not until 2004 that mines were found again, this time at another site, but not successfully reared. We finally got to see the moth in 2013 when another site was found and larvae were reared through successfully. That allowed it to be formally described as a species, Sabulopteryx botanica, which was published in 2019.

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I never would have guessed that from the lack of response to mine.

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Ah. Yes, I stand by my comment but doubt it applies everywhere in the world. It will depend on how much research has been done on leaf mines in an area by entomologists and whether anyone familiar with that work is active on iNat as an identifier.

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Thanks for the replies everyone. It’s all useful and fascinating details. I think this is turning into the stamp collecting of nature observation. I keep coming back from a walk with pockets full of leaves and then having to press and label them for ID later. The weather hasn’t been great for taking field photos but at least at home I can control the lighting. The more I look the more I find though so hopefully they can be identified easily. I even found a good one on a stinging nettle leave which was a challenging one to collect. :flushed:

I’ve set up a little light box for photographing leaves and other macro stuff when the weather is bad. The kids helped me pick some leaves on our walk to school this morning so I can test it out. I can prop the leaves up and bounce the flash from underneath too which is useful. I also need to clean the lens…



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When finding empty mines, and I do not want to collect the leaves, I first make sure the plant is recognizable at least in one of the photos.
As the structure and position of the frass can be an important ID feature, one advice would be to hold the leaf against the sky for the light to shine through. Thus the frass can be better seen, but also the complete mine should be better visible - sometimes it is difficult to find out where the larva started, because in the beginning the mine can be very narrow. Some species can be differentiated by where the egg was layed (leaf border vs. central vein for example), so the starting point might provide valuable information.
One photo should also show if the exit point is on the upper or lower leaf surface, and some species also change sides during their development

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bladmineerders.nl and leafmines.co.uk are useful sites for leaf mines in Europe.

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I love the way that second image shows the growth of the larva – the fine line of the mine when it was newly hatched, gradually widening as the larva itself widened.