Abstract. 1. We compared high and low density populations of a leaf miner (Stilbosis quadricustatella (Cham.)) on two host oaks to ascertain mechanisms influencing abundance. High density miner populations occurred on sand live oak, Quercus geminata (Fagaceae), found in homogeneous stands at inland and coastal sites. Quercus nigra, water oak, a patchily distributed inland species, supported a low density leaf miner population.
2. Average foliar nitrogen of Q.geminata was significantly lower than that of Q.nigra, and lad mining period on Q.geminata was correspondingly longer than on Q.nigra.
3. The average leaf area of Q.nigra was significantly greater than that of Q.geminata.
4. Parasitism was significantly greater in Q.geminata miner populations and predation was significantly higher in Q.nigra populations. However, parasitism and predation rates were roughly reciprocal so that overall larval mortality did not differ significantly between hosts.
5. In a laboratory experiment, pupal overwintering survivorship did not differ significantly between moist and dry treatments of the sand and loam soil types that typify Qgeminata and Q.nipra habitats, respectively.
6. Within-leaf miner density on Q.geminata significantly affected larval survivorship, parasitism and predation. Leaf area and within-leaf miner density were positively correlated.
7. We detected no host-patch area or isolation effect on miner densities on coastal Qgeminata and there was no significant gradient of local coastal conditions affecting larval survivorship or natural enemies.
8. Coastal leaf miner densities were significantly higher on oak patch edges than in interiors.