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 smooth. Antennae long; extending to about about 0.8 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; shortly simply-ciliate. The antennal scape with a pecten, or without a pecten; not forming an ‘eye cap’. Eyes glabrous. Ocelli present, or absent. Chaetosemata absent. Maxillary palps well developed; 4 segmented (short, slender, drooping); not folded. Labial palps well developed (moderate-sized to rather long); ascending (recurved); 3 segmented (?). Proboscis fully developed; scaly towards the base.

Wingspan (8–)10–15(–18) mm; 10–12 times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow; 3.9–4.6 times as long as wide. Tornus undetectable. Forewings apically pointed; predominantly shining-metallic, or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings; ground colour predominantly bronzy, greenish-bronzy, bronzy-fuscous, dark fuscous, purplish-grey, etc. Hindwings narrow-elongate and very long-fringed; lanceolate; similar in breadth to the forewings; with a pointed apex to with a rounded apex. The fringe of the hindwings 1.5–3 times the width of the membrane. The upper surfaces plain; with neither discal spot nor transverse lines; hindwings without a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings (11–)12 veined (lacking vein 8 and occasionally also 5); with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings comprising 1b and 1c. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c (distally only). Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally to simple. The transverse vein complete. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings 7 veined, or 10 veined; with 3 anal veins, or lacking anal veins (sometimes these all vestigial). The anal veins of the hindwings when developed, comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a, or lacking vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c, or lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings simple. The transverse vein complete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins 4+5 proximally joined (stalked). Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell; not approximating to vein 7.

Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred; hairy (with long, fine hairs).

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Larval prolegs 10. Larvae exposed feeders, or concealed feeders (in a loose web in shoots of the food plant, among spun flowers, in silk-lined galleries in stems, sometimes in sand-tubes among roots and stems, etc.); subterranean, or not subterranean; wood- or stem- boring, or not wood- or stem- boring. On divers Dicot herbs and shrubs.

Empty pupae not becoming protruded.

British representation. Genera 1 (Scythris); 11 species.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Gelechioidea.

Illustrations. • Stainton's representative 'Tineina'. • Scythris fuscoaenea. • Scythris fuscoaenea, 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.’.