Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults diurnal; relatively long-bodied; wings in repose packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen.

Head smooth (-scaled, shiny). Antennae of medium length; extending to about about 0.6–0.7 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple (thick); non-ciliate. The antennal scape without a pecten; not forming an ‘eye cap’. Eyes glabrous. Ocelli absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps much reduced; 5 segmented (minute); not folded. Labial palps drooping (slender); 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed; scaly towards the base.

Wingspan 5–8 mm. Wings not aculeate. Forewings narrow; about 3.25 times as long as wide. Tornus undetectable. Forewings apically fairly pointed; predominantly shining-metallic; ground colour predominantly bronzy-grey, or dark coppery-fuscous. Hindwings narrow-elongate and very long-fringed; lanceolate; quite markedly narrower than the forewings to similar in breadth to the forewings; with a pointed apex. The fringe of the hindwings about 2 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 with well developed neuration to with greatly reduced neuration; 9 veined (veins 3, 5 and 8 absent in Antispila, veins 5, 8 and 9 absent in Heliozela); with 1 anal vein. The anal veins of the forewings probably representing 1b only (1c if detectable being vestigial). Forewings probably lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. The transverse vein lacking. Hindwings with greatly reduced neuration; 7–9 veined; seemingly with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c. Hindwings lacking vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c, or lacking a tubular vein 1c; without a discal cell. The transverse vein lacking.

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

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Larval prolegs 0 (virtually apodal, the prolegs on segments 4–6 sometimes represented by crochets). Larvae ultimately case-bearing (when it cuts a case from a leaf of the food plant, in which it lowers itself to the ground for pupation), or not case-bearing (in the earlier instars); concealed feeders; leaf-mining (or in petioles or twigs, until ready to pupate).

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

British representation. Genera 2 (Antispila, Heliozela); 6 species.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Monotrysia. Superfamily Incurvarioidea.

Illustrations. • Heliozela resplendella, Antispila metallella (as pfeifferella), Antispila treitschkiella: Stainton 11, VIII (1870). • Stainton 11, VIII (1870): original legend.. • Antispila metallella: Stainton (1859). • Heliozela: Stainton (1854). • Stainton's representative 'Tineina'. • Heliozela stanneella, 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.’.