Family Yponomeutidae eg small ermine moths

Acrolepiopsis assectella (Zeller) Leek moth

This insect is a local pest of leek; garlic, onion and shallot are also attacked. The young larvae form small holes in the furled leaves; older individuals cause distortion and also graze away considerable areas of photosynthetic tissue. Infestations induce secondary rotting of the leaves and bulbs, and this may result in plant death. In the British Isles, attacks are usually limited to the coastal parts of eastern, southern and southwestern England but they are more widespread in continental Europe, where they extend from Denmark southwards.


Adults overwinter amongst shelter on the ground and reappear in the spring. Eggs are then deposited on the leaves of host plants, usually towards the base. The eggs hatch about a week later. The larvae then bore through the leaf sheath into the heart of the plant. They feed for 3-4 weeks, and often mine within the hollow leaves down to the base of the stem. Fully grown larvae pupate in loose, net-like cocoons (8-9 mm long) (Plate 11a) which they spin on the host plant, in the soil or amongst debris on the ground. There are several generations annually; these range from two or three in northerly parts of the pest's range to five or six in more southerly regions, where pupae may also overwinter.


Adult 16 mm wingspan; forewings mainly greyish-brown, marked irregularly with brown and white (Plate lib). Egg 0.5-0.6 mm long, creamish-white, suboval, flattened and with a reticulated surface. Larva up to 11mm long; body greenish-white; head brown. Pupa 67 mm long, brown.

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