Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


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

Head rough (with a tuft of erect hair-scales on the vertex, but the back of the crown smooth). Antennae of medium length to long; extending to about about 0.8 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; non-ciliate. The antennal scape greatly expanded laterally and concave beneath, forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps well developed (long, filiform); 5 segmented; folded. Labial palps drooping (short); 3 segmented. Proboscis vestigial or absent.

Wingspan 7–12 mm. Wings aculeate (strewn with minute spines). Forewings narrow; 3.5–3.6 times as long as wide. Tornus weakly defined to undetectable. Forewings apically pointed; ground colour predominantly white or cream (usually), or light brown (ochreous). Hindwings narrow-elongate and very long-fringed; linear-lanceolate to lanceolate; very much narrower than the forewings to quite markedly narrower than the forewings; with a pointed apex. The fringe of the hindwings 3–5 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 greatly reduced neuration (veins 3–10 missing); 3 veined, or 4 veined (lacking veins 3–10); supposedly lacking anal veins; supposedly lacking a tubular vein 1c; without a discal cell. The transverse vein lacking. The forewing neuration reduced in the extreme, and the 4–5 existing veins all unbranched. Hindwings with greatly reduced neuration; 7 veined, or 8 veined; seemingly with 1 anal vein. The anal veins of the hindwings supposedly reduced to 1a only. Hindwings supposedly lacking a tubular vein 1c; without a discal cell. The transverse vein lacking. Hindwings lacking veins 3 and 4, and with no transverse vein.

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

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Larval prolegs 0 (or these rudimentary, the larvae extremely slender). Larvae concealed feeders; leaf-mining, or not leaf-mining; wood- or stem- boring (usually mining in bark or rind), or not wood- or stem- boring.

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

British representation. Genera 1 (Opostega); 4 species.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Monotrysia. Superfamily Nepticuloidea.

Illustrations. • Nepticuloidea: Ectoedemia occultella and Pseudopostega crepusculella (Stainton). • Opostega. • Opostega, neuration. • Opostega auritiella.

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.’.