Plant-Insect Interaction: Purslane leaf miner

Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea, Portulacaceae). Photographed 07/27/10 in Palmyra Michigan.

Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea, Portulacaceae), also known as little hogweed, is a common weed throughout North America.  I frequently remove it from my garden (where these photos were taken), and I see it everywhere on the family farm.

Leaf of common purslane (Portulaca oleracea, Portulacaceae) infested with a purslane sawfly larva (Schizocerella pilicornis, Argidae). Photographed 07/27/10 in Palmyra Michigan.

The other day I noticed that purslane seems to be readily attacked by a leaf-mining sawfly (Schizocerella pilicornis, Argidae).  The larvae get into the leaves where they safely eat away at the insides until they reach their adult stage.  You can faintly see a larva of one of these insects inside the right edge of the leaf above.  The same leaf, when held up against the setting sun, helps illuminate the larva inside:

Leaf of common purslane infested with a purslane sawfly larva. Photographed 07/27/10 in Palmyra Michigan.

I removed the larva to get a clear shot of it:

Purslane sawfly larva removed from a leaf. Photographed 07/27/10 in Palmyra Michigan.

Apparently these larvae are quite damaging to purslane, but not enough to control the weed by themselves.  I guess that means I’ll have to continue to pull purslane from my garden, although at least I now know I have a little bit of help.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Plant-Insect Interaction: Purslane leaf miner

  1. Pingback: Plant-Insect Interaction: Basswood leaf mining beetles on an American basswood | The Life of Your Time

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