Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



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

Head smooth. Antennae of medium length to long; extending to about 0.75–0.8 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; non-ciliate. The antennal scape with a pecten (usually), or without a pecten; not forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli present, or absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps much reduced; 1 segmented, or 2 segmented. Labial palps well developed, or short or rudimentary; drooping (then short), or ascending; 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed; scaly towards the base.

Wingspan 7–12 mm; 10–11 times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow; about 3–3.6 times as long as wide (?). Tornus weakly defined. The outer margin convexly curved; forewings apically blunt to pointed; forewings predominantly shining-metallic, or exhibiting shining-metallic markings, or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings. Hindwings narrow-elongate and very long-fringed; lanceolate; very much narrower than the forewings to quite markedly narrower than the forewings; with a pointed apex. The fringe of the hindwings 2–5 times the width of the membrane. The upper surfaces plain; with neither discal spot nor transverse lines; hindwings with a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 10–12 veined (often lacking veins 5 and 8, and sometimes 4); with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c (distally), or lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings simple. The transverse vein complete. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings with well developed neuration, or with greatly reduced neuration; 5–9 veined (vein 5 absent, and sometimes also vein 4); with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins, or with 3 anal veins, or lacking anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings when present, representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c, or comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a, or lacking vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c, or lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings simple. Hindwings with a discal cell to without a discal cell. The transverse vein incomplete, or lacking. Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell; not approximating to vein 7.

Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 4-spurred; hairy.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs smooth or minutely pitted (?). Larval prolegs 10. Larvae concealed feeders; nearly always leaf-mining (rarely in the stems). The numerous species of Elachista in leaves of Gramineae, Juncaceae or Cyperaceae, the single species of Perittia and Stephensia in those of Lonicera and Calamintha, respectively.

Pupae exposed, with no coccoon, or concealed (then in a cocoon); when exposed, not suspended, but attached at the tail and secured by a median girdle of silk; on the surface of the ground, or above the ground (?). Empty pupae not becoming protruded.

British representation. Genera 5 (1 adventive only); 42 species (one adventive). Elachista gleichenella, Elachista gangabella, etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Gelechioidea.

Illustrations. • Elachista maculicerusella (as cerusella), E. poae and E. humilis (as airae): Stainton 3, III (1858). • Stainton 3, III (1858): original legend.. • Elachista bedellella, E. argentella (as cygnipennella) and E. tetragonella: Stainton 3, IV (1858). • Elachista gangabella, E. bisulcella (as zonariella) and Cosmiotes freyerella (as E. gregsoni): Stainton 3, V (1858). • Stainton 3, V (1858): original legend.. • Biselachista cinereopunctella, Elachista gleichenella, Elachista biatomella: Stainton 3, VI (1858). • Stainton 3, VI (1858): original legend.. • Elachista utonella, E. subnigrella and E. quadrella (= ?): Stainton 3, VII (1858). • Stainton 3, VII (1858): original legend.. • Elachista spp.: Stainton (1859). • Stainton's representative 'Tineina'. • Elachista argentella. • Larvae of 'Tineina' (Stainton). • Elachista rufocinerea, 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.’.