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); with fully developed wings (mostly), or wingless, or with vestigial wings (e.g., the females of Diurnea species with reduced wings); wings in repose packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen.

Head usually smooth. Antennae of medium length to very long; extending to about 0.6–1.5 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; non-ciliate, or simply-ciliate, or fasciculate-ciliate. The antennal scape with a pecten, or without a pecten; not forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli present (rarely), or absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps well developed; 4 segmented; folded. Labial palps ascending (very short, appressed); 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed, or absent; when well developed, scaly towards the base.

Wingspan 9–25(–27) mm; 11–22 times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow to broad; 2.1–3 times as long as wide. Tornus clearly defined to weakly defined. The outer margin convexly curved to more or less straight; forewings apically fairly blunt; forewings predominantly shining-metallic, or exhibiting shining-metallic markings, or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings. Hindwings approaching narrow-elongate and very long-fringed, or neither unusually narrow-elongate nor especially long-fringed; lanceolate to ovate; similar in breadth to the forewings. Hindwing width 0.9–1.2 times that of the forewings. Hindwings with a rounded apex. The fringe of the hindwings 0.25–1(–2) 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 (at least distally). Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally to obsoletely furcate. The transverse vein complete. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings 9 veined, or 10 veined; with 2 anal veins, or with 3 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings comprising 1a, 1b and 1c (or occasionally 1b much reduced). Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings furcate proximally to simple. The transverse vein complete to incomplete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins 2+3 proximally joined (connate or shortly stalked). Veins 6 and 7 of the hindwings parallel. Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell (usually), or joined to the cell only by a bar; 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 (amongst spun leaves or seeds or in decayed wood, rarely mining leaves). The phytophagous forms associated with a wide variety of Dicot shrubs and herbs (with the large genus Depressaria specialising in Umbelliferae and Compositae), a few on mosses.

Pupae exposed, with no coccoon, or concealed; when exposed, suspended from the tail (cremaster), with no median silk girdle. Empty pupae not becoming protruded.

British representation. Genera 27 (1 adventive only); 82 species (4 adventive). Agonopterix heracleana, Batia lunaris (Lesser Tawny Crescent), Depressaria depressana (Blunt's Flat-body), Depressaria pastinacella (Parsnip Moth), Diurnea fagella (March Dagger), Esperia sulphurella (Yellow Underwinged Thick-horn), Endrosis sarcitrella (White-shouldered House-moth), Hofmannophila pseudospretella (Brown House-moth), etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Gelechioidea.

Illustrations. • Carcina quercana (specimen): photo. • Agonopterix assimilella, A. nanatella, A. umbellana: Stainton 6, I (1861). • Stainton 6, I (1861): original legend.. • Agonopterix arenella, A. kaekeritziana (as liturella), A. pallorella: Stainton 6, II (1861). • Stainton 6, II (1861): original legend.. • Agonopterix liturosa (as hypericella), A. heracleana, A. nervosa: Stainton 6, III (1861). • Stainton 6, III (1861): original legend.. • Depressaria chaerophyllae, D. pimpinellae, D. depressana (as depressella): Stainton 6, IV (1861). • Stainton 6, IV (1861): original legend.. • Agonopterix angelicella, A. hofmanii (mainland-European), Depressaria libanotidella: Stainton 6, V (1861). • Stainton 6, V (1861): original legend.. • Agonopterix furvella, A. parilella (both mainland-European), A. cnicella: Stainton 6, VI (1861). • Stainton 6, VI (1861): original legend.. • Depressaria albipunctella, D. emeritella, D. olerella: Stainton 6, VII (1861). • Stainton 6, VII (1861): original legend.. • Depressaria heydenii, Agonopterix alstoemeriana, A. heracleana (as applana): Stainton 6, VIII (1861). • Stainton 6, VIII (1861): original legend.. • Carcina quercana, Luqetia lobella and Exaeretia allisella: Stainton 13, VII (1873). • Stainton 13, VII (1873): original legend.. • Stathmopoda pedella and (mainland-European) Palumbina guerinii: Stainton 12, 2 (1870). • Stainton 12, 2 (1870): original legend.. • Agonopterix carduella, Agonopterix subpropinquella, Exaeretia (Depressaroides) culcitella: Stainton 12, 5 (1870). • Stainton 12, 5 (1870): original legend.. • Depressaria artemisiae, D. absynthiella, Agonopterix putridella: Stainton 12, 6 (1870). • Stainton 12, 6 (1870): original legend.. • Agonopterix atomella, with (mainland-European) Agonopterix rutana and A. nodiflorella: Stainton 12, 7 (1870). • Stainton 12, 7 (1870): original legend.. • Depressaria ululana, D. (Horridopalpus) dictamnella, Agonopterix silerella (all mainland-European): Stainton 12, 8 (1870). • Stainton 12, 8 (1870): original legend.. • Stainton's representative 'Tineina'. • Agonopterix, Carcina, Exaeretia, Luquetia, Semioscopis, Stathmopoda (Stainton). • Agonopterix, Alabonia, Amphibastis, Esperia, Hofmannophila, Hypercallia, Pleurota (Stainton).. • Anarsia spartiella (Wanstead Grey): B. Ent. 655. • Anarsia spartiella: B. Ent. 655, legend+text. • Anarsia spartiella: B. Ent. 655, text cont.. • Batia lunaris (Lesser Tawny Crescent: B. Ent. 543). • Batia lunaris (detail, dissections: B. Ent. 543). • Batia lunaris: B. Ent. 543, legend+text. • Batia lunaris: B. Ent. 543, text cont.. • Diurnea fagella (March Dagger, light and dark forms: photos). • Diurnea lipsiella (November Dagger: formerly D. phryganella): B. Ent. 743. • Diurnea lipsiella: B. Ent. 743, legend+text. • Diurnea lipsiella: B. Ent. 743, text cont.. • Esperia sulphurella (Yellow Underwinged Thick-horn: B. Ent. 408). • Esperia sulphurella: B. Ent. 408, legend+text. • Esperia sulphurella: B. Ent. 408, text, cont.. • Depressaria depressana (Blunt's Flat-body: B. Ent. 221). • Depressaria depressana: B. Ent. 221, legend+text. • Depressaria depressana: B. Ent. 221, text cont.. • Hypercallia citrinalis: Stephens IV, 1834. • 6 genera of Oecophoridae: Le Cerf & Herbulot. • 5 genera of Oecophoridae: Kirby 55. • Larvae of 'Tineina' (Stainton). • Agonopteryx liturella: neuration. • Hofmannophila, Pleurota, Agonopteryx: 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.’.