Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults relatively long-bodied; relatively slender-bodied (wingspan more than 15 times the thoracic width) to 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 (moths characteristically posed, with the head end raised, when at rest).

Head usually smooth. Antennae long to very long; extending to about 0.85–1.4 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; non-ciliate. The antennal scape with a pecten (sometimes?), or without a pecten (usually); not forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps well developed (porrect or ascending); 4 segmented. Labial palps well developed, or short or rudimentary; porrect (but sometimes minute); 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed; not scaly.

Wingspan 5–14 mm; 12–16 times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow; (2.9–)3.2–5 times as long as wide. Tornus weakly defined to undetectable. The outer and hind margins angled at 130–150 degrees. The outer margin convexly curved; forewings apically blunt; forewings predominantly shining-metallic (e.g., shining-golden, but often shining-white), or exhibiting shining-metallic markings (often with shining spots), or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings. Hindwings narrow-elongate and very long-fringed; linear-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 with well developed neuration, or with greatly reduced neuration; 7–13 veined (veins 3, 4, 6, 8 and 11 absent in Phyllonorycter, 3, 8 and 11 often absent in others); with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only (with 1c vestigial only, in Phyllonorycter), or comprising 1a and 1b (e.g., in Caloptilia). Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c (this obsolete proximally), or lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings simple. The transverse vein complete, or incomplete. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings with well developed neuration, or with greatly reduced neuration; 6–9 veined; dubiously with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins (?). The anal veins of the hindwings representing 1b only, or comprising 1a and 1b (?). Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a, or lacking vein 1a (?); theoretically lacking a tubular vein 1c; with a discal cell to without a discal cell. The transverse vein complete, or incomplete to vestigial only (lacking between veins 4 and 5), or lacking. When cell defined, 5 veins arising from the hindwing cell, or 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another, or 5+6 proximally joined (often), or 6+7 proximally joined (rarely), or 5+6 proximally joined and 6+7 proximally joined (rarely). Vein 8 of the hindwings when cell present, 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 (sometimes bristly).

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs smooth or minutely pitted (?). Larval prolegs 8 (lacking from segment 10). Larvae concealed feeders (often mining at first, later in a folded or rolled leaf); leaf-mining (and sometimes in stems, occasionally in bark). Mostly associated with Dicot trees and shrubs, a few with herbs; seemingly none on Monocots.

Pupae concealed; above the ground; in flowers. Empty pupae protruded from place of concealment.

British representation. Genera 11; 86 species (2 adventive). Caloptilia azaleella (Azalea Leaf-miner), Caloptilia syringella (Lilac Slender-moth), Phyllonorycter coryli (Nut Leaf Blister Moth), Phyllonorycter (Lithocolletis) quercifoliella (Oak Midget, Oak Blotch or Oak Blister Miner), etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Tineoidea.

See the separate Phyllonorycter package for an illustrated treatment of all the British species of that genus.

Illustrations. • Caloptilia (Gracillaria) syringella (Lilac Slender-moth: B. Ent. 479). • Caloptilia syringella (detail, dissections: B. Ent. 479). • Caloptilia (syringella (legend+text: B. Ent. 479). • Caloptilia syringella (text, cont.: B. Ent. 479). • Callisto denticulella (as Ornix guttea), Ornix petiolella (mainland-European), Deltornix torquillella: Stainton 8, I (1864). • Stainton 8, I (1864): original legend.. • Caloptilia elongella, C. syringella, C. hemidactylella: Stainton 8, II (1864). • Stainton 8, II (1864): original legend.. • Parornix devoniella (as avellanella), P. anglicella, P. fagivora: Stainton 8, III (1864). • Stainton 8, III (1864): original legend.. • Eucalybites auroguttella, Calybites phasianipenella, Leucospilapteryx omissella: Stainton 8, IV (1864). • Stainton 8, IV (1864): original legend.. • Asilapteryx tringipennella, Asilapteryx limosella (mainland-European), Micrurapterix kollariella (spurious British record): Stainton 8, III (1864). • Stainton 8, III (1864): original legend.. • Parectopa ononidis, Aristaea pavoniella (mainland-European), Dialectica imperialella: Stainton 8, V (1864). • Stainton 8, V (1864): original legend.. • Parornix scoticella, P. betulae, P. loganella: Stainton 8, IIa (1864). • Stainton 8, IIa (1864): original legend.. • Stainton's representative 'Tineina'. • Phyllonorycter salicolella (specimens): photo. • P. schreberella (specimens): photo. • The British species of Phyllonorycter. • P. acerifoliella (as sylvella), P. messaniella and P. ulmifoliella: Stainton (1855) Plate VI, under Lithocolletis. • Phyllonorycter roboris and P. harrisella (Oak leaf miners: Stainton 1859). • Caloptilia stigmatella: Stainton (1859). • Leucospilapteryx omisella: Stainton (1859). • Larvae of 'Tineina': Stainton (1854). • Phyllonorycter, Caloptilia: 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.’.