Spatial patterns of the horse chestnut leafminer Cameraria ohridella Deschka & Dimic (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) population density was analysed in the cities of Bern and Brussels in order to explore its spatial population dynamics. The surveys were carried out in Bern in 1998 and 2000 and in Brussels in 2001 to assess population density in relation to local characteristics. In Brussels, population density was also measured using pheromone traps distributed over the city and collected twice per moth generation. A quantitative relationship was found between local population density (measured by pheromone traps and survey observations) and the amount of leaves left on the ground the previous fall. Several other factors were related to observed infestation levels: the occurrence of the pathogen Guignardia aesculi was inversely related to infestation by C. ohridella in Bern in 1998 and 2000, the number of horse chestnut trees within 800 m distance was positively related to infestation level in Bern in 2000, and the proportion of green areas within 100 m and the number of other horse chestnut trees within 2000 m were positively related to infestation levels in the 2001 Brussels survey. The pattern of infestation levels as a function of distance to potential population reservoirs suggested that C. ohridella re-invades areas where overwintering leaves have been cleaned from refuge areas such as parks or urban forests. Our results indicate that the removal of leaves is a feasible first aid control measure to reduce moth population densities. However, leaf removal may not reduce moth densities when done improperly. In places where proper leaf removal is not feasible, other control measures are needed.