British Insects: the Plume moths

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Merrifieldia Tutt

Adults. Face smooth. Labial palps sub-ascending. Tibiae simple. Wing-span 17–24 mm (M. tridactyla), or 20–27 mm (M. baliodactylus). Forewings conspicously cleft; 2-segmented; cleft from about the middle. The lower lobe expanded towards the apex (though quite narrow). Forewings relatively plain; yellow-whitish, whitish-ochreous or pale yellowish-ochreous, the costal cilia not wholly whitish. The cilia fuscous, darker on the costa (M. tridactyla), or in both segments yellowish-white above and dark grey beneath (M. baliodactylus). The base of the fissure preceded not associated with noticeable marking. Forewing venation exhibiting the cell produced into points. Forewing vein 3 absent; 8 absent; 9 absent. Forewing vein 10 absent. Forewing venation summary: 11 near or out of 7 or absent. Hindwings conspicuously cleft; 3-segmented; grey, whitish or paler and ochreous-tinged towards the tips of the segments. Hindwings differently coloured from the forewings (darker). Hindwings without large black scale-teeth in the the posterior segment. The second lobe 2-veined veins. Hindwing vein 3 absent.

Life history and botanical associations. Adults abroad June to August. Associated with herbs; Tenuinucelli; Lamiales.

Larvae and pupae. The larvae found May and June, or September to December, or January to April; hibernating (probably, in M. tridactyla), or not hibernating; on Labiatae; Origanum (M.leucodactyla and M. tridactyla), Origanum (M. baliodactylus). Feeding exposed; on young shoots.

Distribution and habitats. England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Frequenting hillsides and waste places over chalk and limesone; widely distributed locally over Britain and Ireland (M. tridactyla), or southern England to north Lancashire and Westmoreland but commoner in the south (M. baliodactylus). British species: M. baliodactylus, M. leucodactyla, M. tridactyla.

Subfamily. Subfamily Pterophorinae.

Illustrations. • Merrifieldia baliodactylus (specimens): photo. • Merrifieldia baliodactylus (specimen): photo. • Merrifieldia leucodactyla: Hübner, 1813. • Merrifieldia baliodactylus, with Adaina, Alucita, Buckleria, Platyptilia, Pselnophorus and Pterophorus: Leech, 1886. • Merrifieldia baliodactylus and M. tridactyla: Beirne, 1952. • Marasmarcha, Merrifieldia, Platyptilia, Stenoptilia: Beirne, 1952. • Merrifieldia baliodactylus and M. leucodactyla: Barrett, 1907. • neuration: Merrifieldia tetradactyla, Agdistis, Emmelina, Stenoptilia.


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. British insects: the Plume moths (Pterophoridae and Alucitidae). Version: 1st January 2012. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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