Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Adults diurnal; small; 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 usually smooth (-scaled). Antennae of medium length to very long; extending to about 0.5–0.75(–1) times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; simply-ciliate, or fasciculate-ciliate. The antennal scape without a pecten; not forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli present (prominent). Chaetosemata present (rarely), or absent. Maxillary palps well developed, or much reduced (very small); 3–4 segmented. Labial palps ascending (curved); 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed; not scaly.

Wingspan 7–16 mm; 15–20 times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow to broad; 2.2–4 times as long as wide (?); predominantly shining-metallic, or exhibiting shining-metallic markings, or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings (Simaethis). Hindwings ovate-lanceolate to ovate; similar in breadth to the forewings; with a rounded apex. The fringe of the hindwings 0.3–1 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 13 veined; with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings comprising 1b and 1c. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c (complete only distally). Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. The transverse vein complete. Forewings with an accessory cell (e.g., Simaethis), or without an accessory cell. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings with well developed neuration; 7–10 veined; with 3 anal veins, or lacking anal veins (sometimes with only vestigies). The anal veins of the hindwings when present, 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. The transverse vein complete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins 3+4 proximally joined (connate or stalked). 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; not hairy.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs smooth or minutely pitted (?). Larval prolegs 10. Larvae concealed feeders (among spun leaves or seeds). G. equitella on the Dicot Sedum, the rest on Monocots from Gramineae, Cyperaceae, Juncaceae or Sparganiaceae.

Pupae concealed; on the surface of the ground, or above the ground. Empty pupae protruded from place of concealment.

British representation. Genera 2; 8 species. Glyphipteryx haworthana (Cottongrass Moth), Glyphipteryx simpliciella (Cocksfoot Moth), Orthotelia sparganella, etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Yponomeutoidea.

Illustrations. • Glyphipteryx haworthana, G. equitella and G. simpliciella (as fischeriella): Stainton 11, VII (1870). • Stainton 11, VII (1870): original legend.. • Glyphipterix haworthana: Stainton (1859). • Glyphipteryx haworthana: Stephens IV, 1834. • Orthotelia sparganella: Stephens IV, 1834. • Stainton's representative 'Tineina' (1854). • Larvae of 'Tineina' (Stainton). • Anthophila fabriciana, 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.’.