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 rough (with erect hair-scales). Antennae very short to of medium length; extending to about 0.5–0.75 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; non-ciliate. The antennal scape expanded laterally and concave beneath, forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps well developed; 5 segmented; folded. Labial palps drooping (short); 3 segmented. Proboscis absent.

Wingspan 3–9 mm; 10–11 times the thoracic width. Wings aculeate (strewn with minute spines). Forewings narrow; about 2.9–3.7 times as long as wide. Tornus weakly defined to undetectable. Forewings apically blunt, or pointed; predominantly shining-metallic (often bronzy or brassy), or exhibiting shining-metallic markings (e.g., sometimes with golden or silvery marks), or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings. Hindwings narrow-elongate and very long-fringed; lanceolate; very much narrower than the forewings to similar in breadth to the forewings; with a pointed apex. The fringe of the hindwings 2.5–4 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 similar. Forewings with greatly reduced neuration; 5–8 veined (? - lacking veins 3 and 9, and often some of of 4–8); supposedly lacking anal veins (but identification of the veins is difficult); seemingly lacking a tubular vein 1c; without a discal cell. The transverse vein lacking. Hindwings with well developed neuration, or with greatly reduced neuration (sometimes); 6–7 veined; theoretically lacking anal veins; theoretically lacking a tubular vein 1c; without a discal cell. The transverse vein lacking. Vein 8 of the hindwings not approximating to vein 7.

Fore-legs without a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 4-spurred (and with long bristles).

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs markedly flattened. Larval prolegs 0 (or these rudimentary). Larvae concealed feeders; leaf-mining (rarely in bark).

Pupae concealed (in a firm cocoon); above the ground; in leaves. Empty pupae protruded from place of concealment.

British representation. Genera 9; about 100 species (3 adventives). Ectoedemia occultella (Large Birch Pigmy), Stigmella (Nepticula) anomalella (Rose Leaf Miner), Stigmella (Nepticula) malella (Apple Pygmy), etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Monotrysia. Superfamily Nepticuloidea.

Illustrations. • Stigmella minusculella, Stigmella tiliae and (mainland-European) S.lonicerarum: Stainton 7, VIII, 1–3 (1862). • Stainton 7, VIII (1862): original legend.. • Ectoedemia weaveri, Ectoedemia argyropeza and (mainland-European) Nepticula arcuata: Stainton 7, IX, 1–3 (1862). • Stainton 7, IX (1862): original legend.. • Stigmella centifoliella, Stigmella alnetella and Ectoedema occultella (as argentipedella): Stainton 7, X, 1–3 (1862). • Stainton 7, X (1862): original legend.. • Ectoedemia atricollis, Stigmella myrtitella and Stigmella poterii: Stainton 7, XI, 1–3 (1862). • Stainton 7, XI (1862): original legend.. • Nepticuloidea: Ectoedemia crepusculella and Pseudopostega occultella (Stainton). • Ectoedemia, Nepticula, Stigmella, Trifurcula. • Stainton's representative 'Tineina'. • Ectoedemia occultella. E. occultella. • Larvae of 'Tineina' (Stainton). • Nepticula hemargyrella, 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.’.