Leucoptera coffeella

Scientific Name Leucoptera coffeella (Guérin-Méneville)
Synonyms Perileucoptera coffeella (Guérin-Méneville)
Common Names English: Coffee leaf miner; German: Kaffee-Miniermotte; French: Chenille mineuse des feuilles du caféier; Spanish: Minador de la hoja del cafeto; Portuguese: Bicho mineiro do cafe
Description The adults are very small moths, about 2-3 mm (0.078-0.12 inch) in length and entirely covered with silvery white scales. The caterpillars are white and slightly transparent, with a distinctly-segmented dorso-ventrally flattened body which is at most 5 mm (0.19 inch) in length.



The larvae of Leucoptera coffeella feed inside the leaf tissue and consume the palisade parenchyma (which is essential for assimilation), causing brown necrotic blotches. While a single caterpillar will only be able to damage a small area of the leaf (~1 cm²; 0.155 square inch), larvae feeding in great numbers can induce leaves to wilt and fall off. The loss of photosynthetically-active surface disturbs plant growth, reducing flower formation, fructification, and thereby, yield.


The female lays up to 75 eggs, several a day, distributing them on the upper sides of mature leaves. Oviposition sites with locally low relative humidity are preferred.
After about a week, the larvae hatch directly through the base of the egg into the leaf epidermis.
There are four instars, which develop over a period of roughly two weeks. Thereafter each caterpillar builds a cocoon on the underside of a leaf for pupation, which lasts a few days. The freshly-emerged adults mate within hours, and the females begin ovipositing directly after mating. Thus the whole development cycle can be completed within four weeks. Up to ten generations a year are possible, depending on climatic conditions. Hot, dry weather is particularly favorable to reproduction and can lead to high population densities.
L. coffeella occurs in every coffee-growing country of South and Central America. It has not been found in Asia so far; reports of incidence in Africa are as yet unconfirmed.


Agricultural Importance

This species is considered to be one of the most serious pests of coffee. It is an especially big problem in Brazil. In some crops, up to 90% of the leaves can be infested.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Coffee plants that are well shaded and properly supplied with water and nutrients will be less vulnerable to attack by this pest.

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