Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Adults diurnal; relatively long-bodied; medium built (wingspan more than 8 and less than 15 times the thoracic width) to heavily built (wingspan less than 8 times the thoracic width); wings in repose packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen.

Head rough (-haired). Antennae very long (longer in males than females); extending to about 1.25–3 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple (filiform); non-ciliate. The antennal scape not forming an ‘eye cap’. Eyes glabrous. Ocelli absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps much reduced; 2 segmented; not folded. Labial palps porrect, or ascending; 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed; scaly towards the base.

Wingspan 8–20 mm; 8–11 times the thoracic width. Wings aculeate (strewn with minute spines). Forewings narrow; 2.9–4 times as long as wide; the outer margin convexly curved; apically blunt; predominantly shining-metallic (golden-, purplish-, coppery-, brassy, greenish-bronzy, etc.), or predominantly shining-metallic and exhibiting shining-metallic markings (e.g., Nemophora degeerella). Hindwings ovate-lanceolate to ovate (elongate ovate); similar in breadth to the forewings; with a rounded apex. The fringe of the hindwings 0.5–0.75 times the width of the membrane. The upper surfaces plain; with neither discal spot nor transverse lines; hindwings with a frenulum (strong in males, represented by a more distal group of costal spines in females).

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 12 veined; with 1 anal vein. The anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only. Forewings lacking a tubular vein 1c (1c being vestigial). Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. The transverse vein complete. Forewings with an accessory cell. Hindwings 10 veined; with 3 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings furcate proximally. The transverse vein complete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins 4+5 proximally joined (Adela), or 6+7 proximally joined (Nemophora). Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell; not approximating to vein 7.

Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 4-spurred; hairy, or not hairy (some females).

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs smooth or minutely pitted (?). Larval prolegs 10. Larvae case-bearing; concealed feeders; leaf-mining, or not leaf-mining (at first mining in flower heads or leaves, later in a portable case).

Pupae concealed. Empty pupae protruded from place of concealment.

British representation. Genera 3; 15 species. Adela cuprella (Sallow Long-horn), Adela reaumurella (Green Long-horn), Nemophora degeerella (Degeer's Long-horn), etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Monotrysia. Superfamily Incurvarioidea.

Illustrations. • Nemophora degeerella, imbibing honey-dew: photo, Giles Watson. • Nemophora cupriacella (specimens): photo. • Nemophora cupriacella (specimen): photo. • Nemophora metallica (as Nemotois scabiosella), Nemophora fasciella and N. minimella: Stainton 12, V, 1–3 (1873). • Stainton 13, V, 1–3 (1873): original legend.. • Nematopogon swammerdamella (specimens): photo. • Nematopogon swammerdamella (specimens): photo. • Nemophora degeerella (with Incurvariidae): Stainton (1859). • Adela fibulella, A. rufimitrella and (mainland-European) A. violella: Stainton 13, IV, 1–3 (1873). • Adela rufimitrella (specimen): photo. • Adela rufimitrella (specimen): photo. • Stainton 13, IV, (1873): original legend.. • Nemophora degeerella: Stainton. • Adela and Nemophora, details: Stainton (1854). • Adela reamurella. • Adela reamurella, neuration.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera. Version: 8th June 2016.’.