Cool, tiny moth doing a little tail-chasing dance on a valley oak leaf. Saw one more, also on valley oak, but there was plenty of coast live oak nearby, which is supposed to be the larval host.
Original description by Opler is at http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/41066596, but the only additional ecological info is that it forms leaf mines in Q. agrifolia and Q. wislezenii. Extensive discussion and pics of larvae can be found at http://bugguide.net/node/view/384085
Timing is kind of weird. According to Powell & Opler and the MPG charts this should be a spring species.
The leaf miner holes, vs. the Cottonwood leaf itself...
Found mating on Arbutus tree
Locality: NEW ZEALAND AK, suburb of Saint Johns, University of Auckland Tamaki Campus.
Habitat: Beaten from Kunzea.
Identification: Heliozela cf. catoptrias Meyrick, 1897.
4mm in length common near Hackberry, Celtis ehrenbergiana.
Shield Bearer Moth (Coptodisca sp.) on arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis)
Oso Flaco Dunes, San Luis Obispo County, California
Locality: NEW ZEALAND AK, suburb of Parnell, Auckland Domain, George St boundary, opposite Morgan St.
Habitat: Pinus pinea. Probably incidental.
Identification: Heliozela cf. catoptrias Meyrick, 1897. Male.
Caterpillar making tracks through a leaf.
The last photo is my little finger next to it for scale.
Signs of damage.
A family of primitive monotrysian moths in the order Lepidoptera, Heliozelidae are small, metallic day-flying moths with shiny smooth heads. In Europe the small adult moths (genera Antispila and Heliozela) are seldom noticed as they fly quite early in the Spring. The larvae are leaf miners and the vacated leaf mines are distinctive because the larva leaves a large hole at the end.