Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults diurnal; relatively medium-bodied, or 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 (males), or wingless, or with vestigial wings (the females of most species, which may also have reduced legs and antennae); wings in repose spread flat with their lower surfaces more or less appressed to the substrate, or packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen (?).

Head rough (-haired). Antennae very short to of medium length; extending to about 0.4–0.5 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males bipectinate (to the tip), or simple; when not bipectinate, simply-ciliate, or fasciculate-ciliate. The antennal scape without a pecten. Eyes glabrous. Ocelli present, or absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps much reduced, or absent. Labial palps well developed (Naryciinae), or short or rudimentary; when developed, drooping, or porrect; 1–3 segmented, or ?. Proboscis absent.

Wingspan 9–28 mm; 8–20 times the thoracic width. Forewings broad; about 1.8–2.5 times as long as wide; the outer margin convexly curved; apically blunt. Hindwings ovate to broadly rounded; similar in breadth to the forewings; with a rounded apex; the upper surfaces conspicuously patterned above (more or less, with scattered transverse spots or indistinct lines), or plain; with transverse lines, or with neither discal spot nor transverse lines; with a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 12 veined (with vein 8 lacking); with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings comprising 1b and 1c. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c (well developed throughout its length, sometimes connected by a bar to 1b). Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. The transverse vein complete. Forewings with an accessory cell, or without an accessory cell. Discal cell of the forewings containing a tubular media (M) vein (this forked). Hindwings 9 veined, or 10 veined; with 3 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings furcate proximally to simple. Hindwings with a discal cell (containing a forked or simple M vein). The transverse vein complete. 5 veins arising from the hindwing cell (then 6 absent), or 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another. Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell, or joined to the cell only by a bar, or anastomosing with the upper margin of the cell; not approximating to vein 7.

Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis, or without a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs without spurs, or 1-spurred, or 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae without spurs (or 1-spurred?), or 2-spurred, or 4-spurred.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs not flattened; smooth or minutely pitted. Larval prolegs 10. Larvae case-bearing; concealed feeders. On divers Dicots and grasses, also lichens.

Pupae concealed; above the ground (in the larval case). Empty pupae protruded from place of concealment, or not becoming protruded.

British representation. Genera 14; 24 species (2 adventive). Epichnopterix plumella (Woolly Case-bearer, Transparent Sweep), Taleporia tubulosa (Large Birch Bright), etc.

Classification. Macromoths. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Tineoidea.

The Taleporiinae and Naryciinae are placed here in modern treatments, where they conform in having case-bearing larvae and (often) apterous females; but it is easily appreciated (e.g., contrast Curtis's illustrations of Taleporia tubulosa and Epichnopterix plumella) why taxonomists from Curtis to Meyrick referred them to the Tineidae. It will be interesting to have results from comparative DNA sequencing in order to assess this and many other mid- to late Twentieth-century classificatory re-assignments and hierarchical adjustments.

Illustrations. • Epichnopterix plumella (Woolly Case-bearer, Transparent Sweep: B. Ent. 332). • Epichnopterix plumella: B. Ent. 332, legend+text. • Epichnopterix plumella.: B. Ent. 332, text cont.. • Taleporia tubulosa (Large Birch Bright: B. Ent. 487). • Taleporia tubulosa: B. Ent. 487, legend+text. • Taleporia tubulosa: B. Ent. 487, legend cont.. • Narycia monilifera: Stephens VI, 1835 (as N. elegans). • Dahlica, Narycia, Taleporia: Stainton. • Larvae of 'Tineina' (Stainton). • Canephora (with larva), Psyche, Oreopsyche. • Psyche casta: neuration. • Taleporia tubulosa: neuration. • neuration: Acanthopsyche, Psyche.

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.’.