April 29, 2019

Australian Calopompilus species

These notes were to assist with identification of this wasp: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/23364814

According to the ALA/AFD, Australia has eleven named species in the genus Calopompilus (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae). Here are links and copied text for the primary descriptions, with some key characteristics of relevance to iNaturalist highlighted. (A "line" is one 12th of an inch - I have inserted measurements in millimeters.)

Calopompilus affectata (Smith, 1868)

Female. Length 10 lines [21 mm]. Black, with the two basal segments of the abdomen ferruginous, wings maculated. Head as wide as the thorax, the face and cheeks with a fine griseous pile, the head thinly sprinkled with fuscous hairs ; the antennae bright ferruginous ; the labrum, mandibles, and palpi, dark ferruginous. Thorax : the posterior margin of the prothorax arched ; the sides parallel ; the metathorax, the coxse, and sides, covered with a fine glossy pile, reflecting golden tints in different lights ; the truncation of the metathorax smooth, not shining, the upper surface transversely grooved ; wings fulvo-hyaline, their apical margins with a narrow fuscous border, and also a quadrate fuscous spot at the apex of the third discoidal cell, extending upwards into the corners of the second and third sub-marginals ; legs bright ferruginous, with black coxae. Abdomen : the extreme base, also the base of the second segment in the middle, its apical margin broadly, and the following segments entirely black; the apical segment with bright ferruginous hairs. Hab. South Australia (Moreton Bay ?) . In the British Museum.

This BowerBird record seems to fit the description: http://www.bowerbird.org.au/observations/28741

Calopompilus aurifrons (Smith, 1855)

Female. Length 12 lines [25 mm]. — Black: the face covered with fine short golden pubescence ; the antennae, clypeus, palpi and mandibles reddish-yellow, the tips of the femora, tibiae, tarsi and wings of the same colour ; the first recurrent nervure entering the second submarginal cell at one-third from its apex ; the apical margins of the wings have a narrow fuscous border ; the thorax clothed above with short black velvety pubescence ; metathorax short, truncate, and transversely rugose-striate, the striation strongest at the sides ; the posterior tibiae strongly serrated exteriorly, the anterior pairs spinose. Abdomen : the first segment and basal half of the second black, with very short black pubescence, the apical half of the second and the whole of the following segments clothed with short golden pubescence ; beneath smooth and shining, the margins of the segments rufo-piceous. Hab. Australia.

Calopompilus auropilosellus (Turner, 1915)

Long. Female 13 mm. ; Male 11 mm. Female . Clypeus broad and short, broadly subtruncate at the apex ; labrum slightly exposed, subtruncate at the apex. Antennae rather short and stout; second joint of the flagellum about as long as the first and third combined, third a little longer than the fourth. Eyes almost parallel on the inner margin ; ocelli in a small triangle, the posterior pair twice as far from the eyes as from each other. Scutellum broadly subtruncate at the apex ; median segment with a deep median sulcus. Abdomen subopaque, the second ventral segment with a distinct transverse groove near the base; pygidium broad. The whole insect more or less densely clothed with golden pubescence, most closely on the posterior margin of the pronotum, the pleurae, the median segment, and the apical angles of the dorsal segments. Hind tibiae spinose, distinctly serrate on the outer side. Second abscissa of the radius about equal to the third ; first recurrent nervure received at two-fifths from the base of the second cubital cell, second at three-fifths from the base of the third cubital cell. Cubitus of the hind wing interstitial with the transverse median nervure. The black bands on the fore wing are broad and completely cross the wing, the first on the basal nervure, the second from the base of the radial cell, the third is apical ; the two latter converge towards the lower margin. Hab. Mt. Wellington, Tasmania, 2200 ft. ; January to March. The male differs in having the flagellum wholly black, the margins of the abdominal segments pale ferruginous ; the second joint of the flagellum a little shorter than the third. The colour of the wings is similar to that of C. molestus Sm., but the antennae are shorter and stouter, the hind tibiae more distinctly serrate, the position of the recurrent nervures very different, also the colour of the pubescence. The antennae are not quite so stout and short as in pictipennis Sm.

Well illustrated by this BowerBird record: http://www.bowerbird.org.au/observations/84716

Calopompilus defensor (Smith, 1868)

Female. Length 7-10 lines [15-21 mm]. Black, with ferruginous wings. Head narrower than the thorax, antennae incrassate ; the body pilose, in some lights having a dull violet lustre. Thorax : truncate posteriorly, slightly rounded anteriorly ; the posterior margin of the prothorax curved ; the sides parallel ; the wings ferruginous, their bases and apical margins narrowly dark fuscous ; the nervures ferruginous, black at the extreme base of the anterior wings ; the metathorax impunctate, and with an impressed line above, in the middle. Hab. South Australia. In the British Museum.

Calopompilus irritabilis (Smith, 1868)

Female. Length 4.75 - 6 lines [10-13 mm]. Black: the wings with a yellow fascia ; the body covered with a fine silvery silky pile, very bright and glittering in certain lights, and most dense on the face, and body beneath. Thorax : the posterior margin of the prothorax rounded ; wings fusco-hyaline, with a broad yellow fascia towards the apex of the anterior wings, enclosing the marginal, two sub-marginal, and apical half of the third discoidal cell ; the fascia does not quite extend to the posterior margin of the wing : the spines at the apex of the tibiae pale testaceous ; the extreme apex of the anterior tibiae and joints of the tarsi, as well as the apex of the intermediate tibiae, ferruginous. Abdomen rounded at the base. The male closely resembles the female, but has the anterior tibiae and tarsi, as well as the antennae, ferruginous ; the posterior tibiae with a pale spot at their base. Hab. Australia. In the British Museum.

Calopompilus molestus (Smith, 1862)

Female. — Black, and thinly covered with a silky cinereous pile ; the antennae ferruginous, with three or four of the apical joints black ; the mandibles rufo-piceous at their apex ; the vertex, and the pro- and mesothorax with rufo-fuscous reflection ; the posterior margin of the prothorax curved; the tibiae and tarsi dull, ferruginous and sparingly set with short acute spines ; the wings fuscous, with two broad yellow fasciae on the superior pair, their base sub-hyaline ; the posterior wings sub-hyaline, with a fuscous border at their apical margins. Abdomen slightly shining, covered with cinereous silky pile, which is most dense at the base of each segment. Length 9 lines [19 mm]. Hab. Australia (near Sydney). Tn my own Collection.

Calopompilus nugenti (Turner, 1910)

Female . Differs from the typical form [of Sphex (Isodontia) abditus] in the following details : — the second joint of the flagellum is distinctly longer than the third, the punctures on the thorax are very shallow, the pubescence on the thorax and median segment is black, erect, and sparse, and the apical joint of the tarsi is ferruginous, leaving only the coxae and trochanters black on the legs. Length 19 mm. Hab. Cairns, Q. Kohl gives the locality Sikkim, but expresses doubt as to the correctness of the formation. In my opinion abditus is scarcely distinct from aurifrons Sm. from Aru, the latter species differing in the testaceous margins of the abdominal segments which are also slightly pruinose. In Queensland the present form seems to be very scarce and has not been previously recorded.

Calopompilus opimus (Kohl, 1886)

Länge 15 mm. Weibchen. Schwarz. Toment dunkelbraun, stellenweise (Gesicht, Mittelbrustseiten) graulich. Behaarung schwarz. Flügel braun. Gestalt gedrungen. Augen nicht vollkommen bis zur Oberkieferbasis reichend; sie bleiben in einem Abstände davon, welcher nicht ganz die Länge des 1. Geisseigliedes erreicht. Kopfschild ziemlich kurz, gewölbt, vorne abgestutzt, an den Seiten abgerundet. Die Oberlippe ragt beträchtlich unter dem Kopfschilde hervor. Fühler dick; ihr 2. Geisselglied ist eher kürzer als das 3., welches wieder vom 4. an Länge kaum verschieden, eher kürzer ist. Der Abstand der Netzaugen auf dem Scheitel kommt der Länge der drei ersten Geisselglieder gleich, jener an der Clypeusbasis der Länge der drei ersten Geisselglieder noch vermehrt um die des ersten. Hintere Nebenaugen von einander fast so weit abstehend als von den Netzaugeu. Schläfen kräftig. Pronotum mittellang, von oben gesehen in der Mitte noch nahezu so lang als das Schildchen, abgeflacht, vorne senkrecht abstürzend, Schulterecken abgerundet; Hinterrand winkelig. Mittelsegment kurz, von der Länge des Schildchens, mehr als doppelt so breit wie lang, oben uneben, hinten senkrecht abstürzend, ohne Eunzeln. Aftersegment beborstet. 3. Cubitalzelle grösser als die 2., an der Radialader breit abgestutzt, trapezisch, Radialzelle lauzettlich. Basalader ein wenig vor dem Abschlüsse der mittleren Schulterzelle entspringend. Cubitalader der Hinterflügel interstitial. Kniedörnchen vorhanden, klein. Vorderschienen an der Hinterseite und am Endrande mit kurzen Dornen. Die Fussglieder der Vorderbeine ohne Tarsenkamm, doch mit kurzen, in regelmässigen Reihen angeordneten Dornen ziemlich reich besetzt. Klauen stark bezahnt. Klauenkamm arm an Wimpern. Mittel- und Hinterbeiue reich bedorat, ihre Schieneasp orne etwas länger als der halbe Metatarsus. ßauchring des 3. Ringes mit einem Quereindrucke vor der Mitte wie bei Priocnemis-Arten. Swan-River.

Calopompilus ornatipennis (Smith, 1855)

Female. Length 8 lines [17 mm]. — Black : the antennae, palpi, and mandibles in the middle ferruginous, the scape fuscous above ; the legs ferruginous, coxae fuscous ; wings yellow, their apical margins having a fuscous stripe uniting with a transverse band which emanates from the marginal cell, a fuscous oblong stain occupies the apex of the interno-medial and base of the first discoidal cell ; metathorax short and rounded, transversely striated posteriorly ; the first segment and basal half of the second segment of the abdomen ferruginous. Hab. New Holland.

Calopompilus raptor (Smith, 1862)

Female. — Black ; the anterior wings with a broad yellow fascia near their apical margins. Head with the clypeus transverse, and, as well as the base of the mandibles, sprinkled with a few rigid setae ; the tips of the mandibles ferruginous ; the face and cheeks covered with silvery pile. The sides of the thorax, the legs and metathorax with a silvery silky reflection ; the posterior margin of the prothorax curved ; the metathorax somewhat obliquely truncate ; the tibiae exteriorly, and the tarsi, thickly set with short acute spines ; the thorax has a thin fuscous pubescence above, that on the sides and beneath is cinereous ; wings dark fuscous, with an orange-yellow fascia on the anterior pair, the width of the marginal cell, and from thence crossing the wing nearly to its posterior border. Abdomen shining, with a bright silvery silky reflection beneath, and at the posterior lateral angles of the first and second segments. Length 9 lines [19 mm]. Hab. Australia. (The neighbourhood of Sydney.) In my own Collection.

Calopompilus viduatus (Smith, 1855)

Female. Length 6-7 lines [13-15 mm]. — Black : the face with a fine short cinereous pubescence, the vertex impunctate, the cheeks with long cinereous pubescence. Thorax smooth, slightly shining ; the metathorax opake, truncate behind ; the sides of the thorax and the legs have a changeable hoary pile ; the intermediate and posterior tibiae thickly set with short stout spines, the calcaria white ; wings fusco-hyaline, irregularly clouded, the nervures fuscous. Abdomen sessile, the apical margins of the segments have narrow fasciae of fine white pubescence. Hab. New Holland.

Posted on April 29, 2019 07:44 by dhobern dhobern | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 13, 2016

Matters requiring investigation in regard to the genus Xyroptila

As noted in this post, Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin 2006 greatly expanded the list of described species in the genus Xyroptila. Unfortunately, several matters are left unclear in their treatment.

I am using this post to collect notes on points requiring clarification.

Description of genus Xyroptila

As noted by Gielis & de Vos 2007, the paper includes no definition for the genus and therefore does not justify the set of included species or give others the opportunity to determine whether new species should be placed in it.

Generic placement for [Xyroptila] caminites

The species originally named Oxyptilus caminites had been placed within Xyroptila. The paper excludes this species (without detailed justification) but does not propose a new generic placement.

Spelling of Xyroptila naivasha/naiwasha

The name of one of the species newly described in the paper is variously spelled as Xyroptila naivasha and Xyroptila naivasha. Until the first revision of this species, the name has no established spelling.

External abdominal characters

At least some proportion of the species can clearly be separated based on colouration and patterning of the abdomen. This feature is not described in the paper for any species.

Improved external descriptions

The external descriptions supplied in the paper for head, thorax, wings and legs are formulaic and lacking sufficient detail to be of use in diagnosis.

Forewing shapes

The paper suggests that different species vary in whether the termen of one or both forewing lobes is concave. This information does not match other descriptions or the illustrations of some of the species.

Assignment of materials to Xyroptila africana and Xyroptila ruvenzori

The paper states that Bigot's female allotype for Xyroptila africana is in fact the female for the new species Xyroptila ruvenzori. This would leave X. africana with no described female. The paper does not illustrate the female genitalia for X. ruvenzori, although these are described and presumably match Bigot's illustration of female genitalia provided for X. africana. The paper gives no reason for the claim that any of these females are to be associated with either male form. In particular, there is no sign of DNA verification. This means that the females in question may be for either species or a mixture (undiagnosed using genitalic characters). Bigot's male and female were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin refer to both male and female specimens from localities in both Ghana and Uganda. In other words, locality alone does not determine the case. The only conceivable justification for the pairing in the paper seems to be the matching geographic extent including wide ranges either side of Bigot's core locations. Note also that the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen holds two female specimens collected in the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania on 18 July 1981 - the genitalia for these perfectly matches those illustrated by Bigot for X. africana and presumably therefore match the materials identified by Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin as the female for X. ruvenzori. See map of localities for males of each species and females.

Posted on December 13, 2016 21:43 by dhobern dhobern | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Original description of Xyroptila africana Bigot 1969

Bigot described Xyroptila africana and an unidentified Xyroptila sp. in a volume of the journal Revue de Zoologique et de Botanique Africaines which is not easily located, so here is a transcription of his original descriptions. The misspelling Xyroptilia is in the original.

According to Bigot, the unidentified Xyroptila sp. was identified by Meyrick as Xyroptila tectonica, now Pseudoxyroptila tectonica (Meyrick, 1914), a south-east Asian species.

Bigot, 1969, Les Lépidoptères Pterophoridae du Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, à Tervuren (Revue de Zoologique et de Botanique Africaines LXXIX: 165-206), page 180:

21) Xyroptilia vaughani nova sp. — Fig. 10 (B-D).

Type ♂ : envergure, 10 millimètres. Couleur de fond des antérieures brun acajou brillant ; franges plus sombres excepté à l'intérieur del la fissure et localement en deux ou trois points le long du bord interne où la couleur est plus claire que le fond des ailes. Postérieures de couleur uniforme, peu brillantes. Derner segment thoracique et premier segment abdominal recouverts d'écailles blanches. Pattes brunes, les postérieures teintées de blanc sur la face interne.

Genitalia : uncus faible, valves symmétriques, incisées à leur extrémité, pénis droit avec une incision distale.

Provenance : Stanleyville, A. COLLART, 20.IV.1928 ; collection Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.

Allotype ♀ : envergure, 10 millimètres. De même présentation que le mâle mais en meilleur état d'où des couleurs plus vives. Genitalia caracterisées par une forte pièce sclérifièe prolongeant le ductus bursae ; signa de forme circulaire, criblés.

Provenance : Eala, J. GHESQUIÈRE, VIII.1936 ; collection Musée Royale de l'Afrique Centrale.

22) Xyroptilia sp. — Fig. 10 (E).

Une ♀ provenant d'Eala, J. GHESQUIÈRE, IV.1936. Envergure : 13 mm. Très voisin de X. africana. Couleur brun acajou avec quelques éclaircies au niveau du disque et du premier lobe. Genitalia caracterisées par une plaque sclérifiée, moins trapue que chez X. africana, prolongeant le ductus bursae et par des signa arrondis, épineux.

Détermination de MEYRICK : Xyroptila tectonica.

Posted on December 13, 2016 10:38 by dhobern dhobern | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 11, 2016

Xyroptila observations in iNaturalist and elsewhere

I have attempted to summarise the descriptive information in the most recent treatments of species in the genus Xyroptila in another post.

There is much that is unsatisfactory about the descriptions provided by Kovtunovich and Ustjuzhanin's 2006 paper. For a number of the species described, no photograph or painting of any kind is provided. For the rest, reproduction is poor (very dark) and only for a few species is the abdomen illustrated. The descriptions for each species are limited in detail (compared e.g. to the historical descriptions by Meyrick and Fletcher) and seem in a number of respects to be misleading.

For many species, the descriptions state that the termens of the first, the second or both forewing lobes are concave. At best, this categorisation leaves several possibilities unstated. Some forewing lobes on some of these species have a straight termen, while others are rather narrow and have little or no obvious termen. More importantly, the photographs included of several of the species do not agree with the information in this description on this point. As an example, for X. marmarias, Meyrick wrote, "first segment rather narrow, second posteriorly dilated, its apex produced, termen concave, oblique," while Kovtunovich and Ustjuzhanin write (of the lectotype), "outer margin of both lobes concave". Photographs are included of two of Meyrick's specimens and these show a concave termen for the first lobe for the lectotype and a more acute lobe for the syntype. This seems therefore to be a character which cannot readily be used to distinguish live individuals.

Additionally, for many of the species, Kovtunivich and Ustjuzhanin write of the dorsal fringe of the forewing that it includes "patches of dark hair at the base, in the centre and at the apex." The natural reading of this wording would be to interpret this as a series of positions along the wing. However, the actual positions of these patches in the species do not seem to include any at the base of the wing. More correctly, they include patches around the middle of the wing, below the base of the cleft (i.e., around 60-65% of the way along the wing), and near the tornus (i.e., around 95%). This seems to be the only possible interpretation of this description.

For two of the species, we have enough information in Meyrick's descriptions and other material to know their appearance.

X. marmarias is well illustrated by this Papuan specimen and the individual represented in this photograph from Queensland (actually a modified image to give bilateral symmetry - I believe that the whitish prothorax is a lighting artefact). These individuals match the syntype for X. marmarias, which is illustrated (with abdomen attached) by Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin. Note the abdominal pattern on these individuals, mostly golden yellow, but white at the base and between the 2nd and 3rd segments and ferruginous on the 3rd segment and apical region.

X. peltastes is shown in this photograph from Queensland. The appearance matches Meyrick's original description. Note the abdominal pattern with a bronzy fuscous coloration with a whitish metathorax and basal segment and whitish edges or spots on subsequent segments.

The current Xyroptila observations on iNaturalist can be separated into two groups: 1) Two apparently matching individuals from Hong Kong (here and here), and 2) One individual from West Bengal, India (here).

It is clear that the two iNaturalist forms do not match either X. marmarias or X. peltastes.

The Indian observation is somewhat close to X. marmarias but the colouration is much more orange and the abdominal pattern is only whitish at the base (very extensively). As discussed on the observation page, the moth in the photograph is a perfect match for X. oksana as illustrated by Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin.

The Hong Kong moths have presented me with more difficulties. The abdominal pattern is very distinctive in comparison with the other species for which live observations are available. The basal segment shows brilliant white edges, leaving a ferruginous triangle, completely different from the whitish basal segments on the other three species. Of the remaining Indo-Australian species, 1) X. soma is described as dark brown on the head and thorax and different in most other visible characters, although the forewing description is self-contradictory; 2) X. vaughani is described by Fletcher and has the first two abdominal segments pale yellow; 3) X. dohertyi has dark forewings with hardly any pale scales; 4) X. colluceo is illustrated and completely different; 5) X. falciformis is apparently brown and yellow, with a different pattern in the forewing dorsum; 6) X. maklaia, 7) X. variegata, 8) X. aenea and 9)X. siami again apparently have a different pattern in the forewing dorsum; 10) X. kuranda has a violet iridescence on the forewings and a different pattern in the dorsum; and 11) X. uluru apparently has light brown forewings with grey spots.

This leaves just two candidate species: 12) X. oenophanes, the type species of the genus and one of the most widely recorded, including Taiwan and Guangxi province, China; and 13) X. elegans from the Moluccas, Sulawesi, New Guinea and Australia. The descriptions provided for both of these species by Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin could fit these Hong Kong individuals. However the supplied photograph of a specimen of X. elegans shows much more extensive pale mottling on the forewings, whereas the best image of X. oenophanes shows a pattern very close to these iNaturalist observations. Moreover, the syntype of X. oenophanes is illustrated - the picture is very dark, but clearly shows the same pattern as the Hong Kong specimens in the white at the base of the abdomen.

Returning to Meyrick's original description of X. oenophanes, the description of the forewings in particular is a good match for these observations: "Fore-wings with apex of second segment produced, acute, termen concave ; dark ferruginous-fuscous, somewhat sprinkled with whitish ; a whitish bar parallel to termen crossing both segments before their middle : cilia pale ochreous tinged with crimson, with a black bar at apex, and blackish-grey posterior patches on lower margin of first segment and both margins of second." Interestingly, the "crimson" colouration can be seen in some of these Hong Kong images.

I therefore conclude that, based on geography and appearance, the Hong Kong individuals are X. oenophanes.

Note: following writing this post, I discovered that I had earlier identified this Xyroptila from Singapore as X. oenophanes. There is some difference in the extent of the pale patches on the forewing (which corresponds with at least one of the specimens photographed by Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin) but again I can see no reason to identify this as anything else.

Posted on December 11, 2016 19:55 by dhobern dhobern | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 10, 2016

Original description of Oxyptilus vaughani Fletcher, 1909

Since Fletcher described the species now known as Xyroptila vaughani in a volume of the journal Spolia Zeylanica which is not currently among those included in BHL, here is a transcription of his original description.

Fletcher, 1909, The Plume-moths of Ceylon. Part 1. — The Pterophoridae. (Spolia Zeylanica 6: 1-39, Plates A-F), pages 23-24:

OXYPTILUS VAUGHANI, n. s.

♂. Expanse 10.5 mm. Palpi long, slender, curved, sickle-shaped, smooth ; white, irregularly mottled with fuscous ferruginous ; terminal joint acute, longer than second. (Antennae wanting.) Head dark ferruginous fuscous, vertex covered with a loose tuft of elongated erected scales which do not form a regular cone. Thorax dark ferruginous fuscous ; pectus pale sulphur-yellow. Abdomen ; first segment and base of second segment pale sulphur-yellow, second, third, and fourth segments deep chestnut-bronze-brown, apical margin of fourth segment edged with a narrow transverse band of brilliant white scales, fifth segment thickly irrorated with white scales so as to form a distinct broad transverse bar across the abdomen, terminal segments deep reddish-purple ; anal tuft long, apex yellowish-white. Legs dark ferruginous-fuscous, narrowly banded transversely with white ; spurs long, equal ; posterior tibiae with small clusters of short dark fuscous spines near base and on origin of spurs. Fore wing cleft from 3/5 ; elongated, narrow at base, broadly expanded outwardly ; first segment rather narrow, apex acute, termen concave, oblique, anal angle distinct ; second segment posteriorly dilated, apex produced (not extending beyond anal angle of first segment), termen concave, oblique ; deep chestnut-brown, thickly irrorated with ferruginous and thinly sprinkled throughout with minute patches of lilacine-whitish scales ; costal edge dark fuscous ; a small whitish dot on costa at ½, a small whitish transverse costal spot at ½ of first segment, and a small white sub-apical spot ; second segment with a small whitish dot on anterior margin at 3/4 ; cilia ochreous-white, with blackish patches at angles of both segments suffused with blackish within cleft, with black bars on dorsum at 3/4 and 7/8 and a black dorsal scale-tooth at ½. Hind wing cleft firsly from 2/5, secondly from near base, segments very narrow and linear ; dark ferruginous fuscous, third segment with a white bar at ½ and a minute apical dorsal scale-tooth just beyond it ; cilia ochreous-white, fuscous on first segment and towards apex of second, those of third segment very long and delicate.

Type ♂ (No. 6,459) in Coll. Bainbrigge Fletcher.

Locality.—Ceylon, Province of Uva, Madulsíma, Cocogalla estate (4,000 feet) ; February, 1907, at light (W. Vaughan).

I have much pleasure in naming this species after Mr. Wm. Vaughan, to whom I am indebted for this and many other "plumes."

Oxyptilus vaughani seems closely related to O. peltastes, Meyr. (T. E. S., 1907, 479), but differs in the distinct band on the abdomen and the white-banded legs. Both these species seem to approach very nearly to the members of the lately-described genus Xyroptila, Meyr., and will probably have to be removed from the genus Oxyptilus ; but until the exotic Oxyptilids are better known it seems to me that no good purpose will be served by separating the group.

Since writing the above I have examined a specimen collected by Dr. A. Willey at Trincomalee on October 4, 1908, and have also received an example taken by Mr. W. Ormiston at Haldummulla in November.

On September 10 Mr W. Vaughan obtained a second specimen at Aráwa, and a few days later bred a third from a pupa found suspended from the upper surface of a leaf of Dimorphocalyx glabellus in the same locality. Furnished with this information, and thanks to Mr. Vaughan's kind assistance, I was able to visit Aráwa on several occasions during December and found the moths quite common. They were at first obtained rather sparingly by beating D. glabellus, but later on I found them in abundance flying in the bright morning sunshine (about 10 to 11 A.M.) around the flowers of Leea sambucina (Sinh. "Bouroula"). In several cases I noted that the moths were actually feeding on the flowers, their tongues unrolled and thrust violently into the flower in search of food. In other cases they were settled on the leaves, when they hung down freely suspended by the first two pairs of legs, the wings folded and held out at right angles, the tip of the abdomen strongly curved upwards, and the posterior legs with the tibiae extended at an angle between the wings and the abdomen, and the tarsi curved inwards until the distal tarsal joint nearly touched the apex of the abdomen.

An examination of a long series shows that O. vaughani may differ from the type, as described above, in the following points:— (1) The white spots on the first segment of the fore wing are sometimes developed into distinct, though narrow, transverse bands. (2) The white bands on the hind legs are sometimes very indistinct. (3) The fifth abdominal segment is usually less suffused with white scales. The narrow white bar on the fourth abdominal segment, however, is always very distinct and characteristic.

The larva will probably be found to feed inside the fruit of Dimorphocalyx glabellus (Sinh. "Weliwenna"), from which I also beat an example of O. vaughani at Alutnuwara on December 16, 1908.

Posted on December 10, 2016 21:25 by dhobern dhobern | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Notes on the genus Xyroptila (Lepidoptera, Pterophoridae)

The genus Xyroptila includes four Indo-Australian species described by Meyrick in 1908 (X. oenophanes, X. peltastes and X. marmarias) and Fletcher in 1909 (X. vaughani), along with a central African species described by Bigot in 1969 (X. africana).

In 2006, Kovtunovich and Ustjuzhanin published a paper in the journal Atalanta 37 (1/2): 249-276, The genus Xyroptila MEYRICK, 1908 in the world fauna: new species, new records and taxonomic comments. This paper adds 19 new species to the genus (11 Indo-Australian, 7 African and 1 from Peru). Each species is briefly (re-)described and high-quality genitalia drawings are offered (both sexes for 10 species, male only for 9 species and female only for 5 species). A few specimens are illustrated with colour photos, but reproduction does not facilitate fine comparison of external characters. The species originally described by Meyrick as Oxyptilus caminites had also been assigned to this genus, but Kovtunovich and Ustjuzhanin determined that it does not belong here, although details for their decision are not provided.

In 2007, Gielis and de Vos added one more species from Papua (http://www.zobodat.at/pdf/ENT_0028_0185-0200.pdf). At the same time, they commented on the 2006 paper as follows: "In a recent review (KOVTUNOVICH & USTJUZHANIN, 2006) of the genus Xyroptila a great number of new species were described. This has, on species level, substantially increased the knowledge of this genus. There is, however, a down side to this publication. Without a proper genus description, which is not present in the cited publication, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find the arguments used by the authors to comment on earlier publications, nor could the reason be detected which they used to place the treated species in the current genus. Also the removing of species out of this genus, without explaining the reason for this decision, and without indicating where that species has to be placed must be considered very poor, and not convincing."

There are other issues with the 2006 paper, some of which I discuss below. One important point is that both Xyroptilia naivasha and Xyroptila naiwasha are provided as spellings for the name of one of the new species. According to the zoological code, the spelling for this species name is not settled until the first time the species is revised. Kovtunovich and Ustjuzhanin state that the female presented by Bigot in his original description for X. africana is in fact the female for their new species, X. ruvenzori.

Personally, I lament the absence in the recent species descriptions of any detail or illustration of the external abdominal markings, since these are so often distinctive. Most published photographs in such treatments show the specimen after dissection - I cannot understand why materials are not photographed before removal of the abdomen. Earlier treatments, such as those from Meyrick and Fletcher, are much more usable in this respect.

The expansion of the genus to 25 currently accepted species (or perhaps 26, if X. caminites has been excluded on insufficient grounds) has made it difficult to assign identifications to individuals of this genus illustrated live in photographs on the web. This note is an attempt to establish basic information to assist with identifying individuals illustrated in iNaturalist and elsewhere.

It should also be noted that some species in the genera Nippoptilia and Leptodeuterocopus are relatively close to Xyroptila in appearance. See examples from Papua here.

The following groups the species according to the three regions indicated above, leaving the whole "Indo-Australian" group as one, since species ranges overlap in this area. For each species, I have organised the information provided for external characteristics in Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin 2006. In a few cases, I have filled gaps by interpreting their images. In the case of X. colluceo, I have selected the equivalent information from Gielis & de Vos 2007.

As I discuss in this later post, there are real problems with interpreting some characters given by Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin. The following should therefore be seen only as a convenient summary of their descriptions.

Indo-Australian species


Xyroptila oenophanes Meyrick, 1908

Meyrick's original description here
Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, ? New Guinea, ?? Africa
Head, thorax and tegulae: Brown interspersed with lighter scales
Labial palpi colouration: White at base, brown apically
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Chequered with patches of brown and white scales
Forewing: Brown with white or yellowish spots
Forewing length: 11mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Light with dark hair close to tips of lobe
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at base, centre and apex
Hindwings : Plain brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Shorter
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Dark brown with some patches of light scales
Abdomen: (From Meyrick's original description) Rather dark fuscous, base ochreous-white, beneath whitish


Xyroptila oksana Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006

See this iNaturalist observation
Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia
Head, thorax and tegulae: Reddish-brown
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Evenly chequered with brown and white patches
Forewing: Reddish brown with yellow-orange spots at centre of wing and at base of cleft, and slanting orange band in distal part of fore lobe, continuing to base of cleft oh hind lobe
Forewing length: 10-11mm
Concave forewing lobes: ?2nd slightly (from painting)
Fringe inside cleft: White with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Patches of yellow and brown hair
Hindwings : Brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Less than half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Light brown mottled with yellowish and brown patches, and erect clusters of brown scales at base of spurs
Other: Outer fringe of first forewing lobe brown, second white in middle and brown at sides


Xyroptila soma Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: India
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown
Labial palpi colouration: Unknown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: Unknown
Labial palpi shape: Unknown
Antennae: Dark brown
Forewing: Plain dark brown, with only a yellowish spot between base of wing and cleft / with yellow-orange spots at centre of wing and base of cleft, and a slanting orange band situated distally in the middle of the fore lobe and continuing onto the hind lobe to the base of the cleft
Forewing length: 12mm
Concave forewing lobes: 1st only
Fringe inside cleft: Light brown with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellowish-brown with dark patches at middle, under base of cleft and at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Dark brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Dark brown


Xyroptila vaughani (Fletcher, 1909)

Fletcher's original description of Oxyptilus vaughani here
Distribution: Sri Lanka
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown
Labial palpi colouration: Chequered brown and whitish
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: Almost 2x
Labial palpi shape: Not specified
Antennae: Dark brown with patches of yellowish scales
Forewing: Dark brown with white spots and scales
Forewing length: 10mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Plain dark brown
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at middle, under base of cleft and at apex
Hindwings : Plain reddish brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Present
Hind legs: Chequered brown and white
Abdomen: (From Fletcher's original description) First segment and base of second segment pale sulphur-yellow, second, third, and fourth segments deep chestnut-bronze-brown, apical margin of fourth segment edged with a narrow transverse band of brilliant white scales, fifth segment thickly irrorated with white scales so as to form a distinct broad transverse bar across the abdomen, terminal segments deep reddish-purple; anal tuft long, apex yellowish-white


Xyroptila dohertyi Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Thailand
Head, thorax and tegulae: Light brown
Labial palpi colouration: Earth-coloured on top, brown below
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2x
Labial palpi shape: Straight
Antennae: Dark brown with lighter scales
Forewing: Dark brown with hardly any noticeable lighter scales
Forewing length: 13mm
Concave forewing lobes: 1st only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at middle, under base of cleft and at apex
Hindwings : Plain dark brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Well-expressed
Hind legs: Darn brown with white spots and rings


Xyroptila siami Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Thailand, Myanmar, China
Head, thorax and tegulae: Brown, tegulae lighter
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Tusk-like
Antennae: Dark brown
Forewing: Mottled with brown and yellowish patches, apex mid-brown with hardly noticeable narrow yellowish band
Forewing length: 14mm
Concave forewing lobes: 1st only
Fringe inside cleft: Light brown with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with three dark patches at outer margin
Hindwings : Dark brown and yellow
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Light brown with darker rings at base of spurs and joints; tibiae with white spots and scattered scales


Xyroptila aenea Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Indonesia
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Dark brown
Forewing: Copper red with orange spots
Forewing length: 11mm
Concave forewing lobes: 1st only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches under base of cleft and at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Plain brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Dark brown


Xyroptila elegans Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown
Labial palpi colouration: Light brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Chequered with rings of white and brown scales
Forewing: Mottled with brown and yellow-orange patches
Forewing length: 14-15mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at centre, under base of cleft and at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Well-expressed
Hind legs: Light brown with darker rings at base of spurs and joints


Xyroptila kuranda Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Indonesia, Australia
Head, thorax and tegulae: Brown
Labial palpi colouration: Brown, 2nd segment light brown above and black below, 3rd segment black
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Tusk-like
Antennae: Dark brown
Forewing: Violet iridescence, mottled with brown and yellow-orange patches
Forewing length: 10-11mm
Concave forewing lobes: 1st only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches close to apex
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patch under apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Brown


Xyroptila marmarias Meyrick, 1908

Meyrick's original description here

Papuan specimen here
Distribution: New Guinea, Australia
Head, thorax and tegulae: Light brown
Labial palpi colouration: 3rd segment darker than 2nd
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: Almost 3x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Dark brown
Forewing: Reddish brown with yellow spots
Forewing length: 11mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches at tips of lobe
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark hairs under base of cleft and tip of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Plain reddish brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Yellow with tarsi noticeably darkened
Abdomen: (From Meyrick's original description) Bright golden-bronze, base of first segment yellowish-white, margins of second and third segments more or less whitish, towards middle and apex more or less suffused with dark coppery-fuscous


Xyroptila colluceo Gielis & de Vos, 2007

Colour photograph of holotype here
Distribution: New Guinea
Head, thorax and tegulae: Head appressed scaled, dorsally brown, frons orange brown; thorax and tegular shining orange; mesothorax shining orange with sparse white scales
Labial palpi colouration: 2nd segment orange-brown above, brown below, 3rd segment brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 3x
Labial palpi shape: Curved upwards
Antennae: Dark brown with sparse white scales
Forewing: Bright orange with dark brown markings; basal darkening along 1/4 of wing along costa and dorsum; discal spot extending to costa; costal and dorsal spot at base of cleft; transverse band in centre of both lobes; subterminal darkening in both lobes
Forewing length: 10mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only (base on image, 1st lacking termen)
Fringe inside cleft: Orange-grey with outer third dark grey
Forewing dorsal fringe: Orange-grey with brush at 6/7 and dark at apex
Hindwings : Dark brown, 3rd lobe orange-brown, fringes orange-grey
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Shining orange; two pairs of spurs of equal length; small brown scale brush at base os spurs; tarsal segments dark brown


Xyroptila falciformis Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: New Guinea
Head, thorax and tegulae: Brown scales
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2x
Labial palpi shape: Curved upwards
Antennae: Dark brown
Forewing: Mottled with brown and yellowish patches
Forewing length: 12-13mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches only close to apex
Forewing dorsal fringe: Brown with dark patch close to apex
Hindwings : Light brown, with distinct darkening at apex of 3rd lobe
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Light brown with darker rings at base of spurs and joints


Xyroptila maklaia Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: New Guinea
Head, thorax and tegulae: Light brown
Labial palpi colouration: Muddy-white above, brown below
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Dark brown
Forewing: Mottled with brown and yellow-orange patches
Forewing length: 12mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patch only at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Brown, 3rd lobe lighter with darkened apex
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Light brown with darker rings at base of spurs and joints


Xyroptila variegata Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: New Guinea
Head, thorax and tegulae: Brown
Labial palpi colouration: Not specified
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Brown with patches of light scales
Forewing: Mottled with brown and yellow-orange patches
Forewing length: 13mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Plain light brown with dark patch at base of 2nd lobe
Forewing dorsal fringe: Light brown with dark patch at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Brown, darker than forewing
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Large
Hind legs: Light brown with darker rings at bsae of spurs and joints


Xyroptila peltastes (Meyrick, 1908)

Meyrick's original description of Oxyptilus peltastes here

Image of live individual in Queensland here
Distribution: Australia
Head, thorax and tegulae: Reddish-brown
Labial palpi colouration: White at base, brown at extremity
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2x
Labial palpi shape: Directed forward
Antennae: Chequered, dark brown with greyish rings
Forewing: Bright reddish brown with yellow spots and patches of white scales
Forewing length: 13mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Greyish-yellow with dark close to base and outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Light brown with dark patches at base, centre and apex
Hindwings : Plain reddish brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Present
Hind legs: Dark brown with tarsi and bases of spurs almost black


Xyroptila uluru Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Australia
Head, thorax and tegulae: Light brown
Labial palpi colouration: Light brown, darkening towards apex
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Tusk-like
Antennae: Dark brown with regular patches of lighter scales
Forewing: Light brown with grey spots, lighter-coloured band at apex of 1st lobe, distal part of both lobes dark brown
Forewing length: 11mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches close to apex
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches under base of cleft and at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Plain light brown with light fringe
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Brown with darker rings at base of spurs and joints

African species


Xyroptila africana Bigot, 1969


Distribution: Congo, Nigeria
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown scales
Labial palpi colouration: Not specified
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter:
Labial palpi shape:
Antennae: Plain dark brown
Forewing: Dark brown with yellowish patches scattered over whole wing
Forewing length: 13mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches at base
Forewing dorsal fringe: Light yellow with dark patches at base, centre and under base of cleft
Hindwings : Plain dark brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Brown with patches of yellow scales


Xyroptila fulbae Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Nigeria, Principe I.
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown scales, with yellow sides to thorax
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Chequered with yellow and brown
Forewing: Reddish-brown with orange spots at base, in centre and above and beliw cleft
Forewing length: 13-14mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches at base
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at middle, under base of cleft and at apex
Hindwings : Plain reddish brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Almost half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Light brown
"Other: Apical part of wing elongated
Outer spurs of hindwing (sic) very long, almost as long as 3rd lobe
"


Xyroptila irina Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Madagascar
Head, thorax and tegulae: Glittering brownish yellow scales
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Chequered with yellow and brown
Forewing: Dark and mottled with brown and yellowish scales
Forewing length: 14mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow at base with dark patches from centre to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at base of cleft and apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Light brown with lobe apices darker
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Mottled with yellowish and brown patches, and clusters of erect brown scales at base of spurs
Other: Apical part of wing elongated


Xyroptila masaia Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006

Black-and-white photograph of specimen from Congo here
Distribution: East Africa
Head, thorax and tegulae: Light brown scales
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae: Chequered with yellow and brown
Forewing: Mottled with brown and yellowish patches, distal section of centre of apex of wing lobe having an inclusion of yellowish scales
Forewing length: 12-13mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd slightly
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches at outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at middle, under base of cleft and at apex
Hindwings : Light brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Light brown with darkening at base of spurs and joints


Xyroptila monomotapa Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Mozambique
Head, thorax and tegulae: Reddish-brown scales
Labial palpi colouration: Brown, darker distally
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Tusk-like
Antennae: Chequered with yellow and brown
Forewing: Dark brown with noticeable dark yellow spots and bands
Forewing length: 12mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches from middle to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at middle, under base of cleft and at apex
Hindwings : Dark brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Brown with darker rings at base of spurs


Xyroptila naiwasha Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Kenya
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown with mesothorax and part of tegulae lightened with yellowish scales
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 1.5x
Labial palpi shape: Slightly curved upwards
Antennae: Dark brown with patches of light scales
Forewing: Dark brown with yellow spots, especially at base of cleft on both lobes
Forewing length: 13mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd slightly
Fringe inside cleft: Dark brown at base
Forewing dorsal fringe: Brown with dark patch at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Plain dark brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Strong
Hind legs: Not specified


Xyroptila ruvenzori Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Uganda, Ghana
Head, thorax and tegulae: Copper brown glittering hair, sides of thorax bright yellow
Labial palpi colouration: Dark brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Elephant tusk
Antennae:
Forewing: Reddish brown with patches of yellowish and white scales and two distinct longitudinal yellow spots at costal margin
Forewing length: 10-12mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with patches of dark hair at base
Forewing dorsal fringe: Light yellow with dark area just below apex
Hindwings : Plain reddish brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Almost half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Reddish brown
"Other: Apical part of wing elongated
Outer spurs of hindwing (sic) very long, almost as long as 3rd lobe
"


Xyroptila zambesi Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Zimbabwe
Head, thorax and tegulae: Dark brown scales
Labial palpi colouration: Light brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Tusk-like
Antennae: Brown with regular patches of light scales
Forewing: Light brown with yellow spots, bands and tiny patches
Forewing length: 12mm
Concave forewing lobes: Both
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches at outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches at middle, under base of cleft and at apex
Hindwings : Plain dark brown
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Absent
Hind legs: Light brown with darker rings at base of spurs and joints

Latin American species


Xyroptila sybylla Kovtunovich & Ustjuzhanin, 2006


Distribution: Peru
Head, thorax and tegulae: Reddish brown scales
Labial palpi colouration: Brown
Lapial palpi length against eye diameter: 2-2.5x
Labial palpi shape: Tusk-like
Antennae: Dark brown with regular patches of lighter scales
Forewing: Dark brown with dark yellow spots and bands
Forewing length: 13mm
Concave forewing lobes: 2nd only
Fringe inside cleft: Yellow with dark patches close to outer margin
Forewing dorsal fringe: Yellow with dark patches under base of cleft and at apex of 2nd lobe
Hindwings : Dark brown, fringe of first two lobes light, slightly darkened at apex
Hindwing 3rd lobe length against 2nd: Half
Hindwing 3rd lobe apical scale tooth: Present
Hind legs: Light brown with darker rings at base of spurs and joints

Posted on December 10, 2016 13:57 by dhobern dhobern | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 03, 2015

LifeScanner - DNA barcoding for all

On a recent visit to the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO), home of the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), I was given a LifeScanner kit. These kits contain four vials, each containing a small amount of ethanol and labeled with a QR code. They are currently intended for use with an iPhone app - no Android support, so I was unable completely to follow the intended workflow. Users can photograph an item for which they would like a DNA-based identification (e.g. an insect, a leaf, some meat or fish served in a restaurant), place a sample in a vial, scan the QR code on the vial with the app, and upload the photo and associated details (including location from the phone GPS). Finally they mail a package containing the four vials to BIO and get notified when they have been sequenced and what identification results.

In my case, I supplied the necessary information separately, but mailed in four moth samples from a few days spent in Florida. The results were interesting.

A Coleophora sp. turned out to be a perfect match (100% similarity with several existing BOLD samples) for Coleophora glaucicolella, which has not been recorded in Moth Photographers Group or BugGuide from Florida.

A gelechiid I had identified as Aristotelia rubidella came back as matching (100% similarity) a large number of specimens registered in BOLD as Aristotelia corallina. This is interesting. The sequence and external appearance and distribution of records clearly indicates that the BOLD specimens are the same as the moth I found, but these do not seem to match A. corallina - see here for all the details.

Then there were two plume moths. One of these is Exelastis pumilio - the BOLD identification came back as Exelastis with the closest match (similarity 97.1%) with E. pumilio. The species identification is in line with the black spots in the termen and dorsum of the forewing.

The other plume moth was one which I examined too casually and initially labeled as Lantanophaga pusillidactylus. The identification came back as Stenoptilodes, which is quite correct - the moth looks exactly like Stenoptilodes taprobanes. Checking this out made me aware than in fact Florida has a second species in the same genus, Stenoptilodes brevipennis, so I can't proceed beyond identification as Stenoptilodes.

Even for these four moths, the LifeScanner kit helped focus identification questions and give confidence around what can be known and what is difficult to confirm.

LifeScanner kits are currently available for sale in the US and Canada from http://kits.lifescanner.net/.

Posted on June 03, 2015 08:15 by dhobern dhobern | 4 observations | 18 comments | Leave a comment

February 16, 2014

Moth identification: miscellaneous notes

Here I bring together various miscellaneous notes on identifying moths. It is part of a series of posts on moth identification.

Taxonomy in flux


The family-level taxonomy for many Lepidoptera is in turmoil. Many of the subfamilies are readily recognised but their relationships are being reinterpreted. That means that old understanding of the noctuoid families (particularly Noctuidae, Nolidae, Arctiidae and Lymantriidae) is being disrupted, with many subfamilies that were formerly considered part of the Noctuidae now moved into the family Erebidae along with the Arctiidae and Lymantriidae. Similarly the former understanding of the Pyralidae has been revised to reorganise these moths as the Pyralidae and the Crambidae. In general this has not impacted classification below the subfamily level to anything like the same degree. It does however cause confusion and makes it difficult to write clearly about these groups without confusing some readers, particularly since the adoption of these newer taxonomic views is happening at different speeds, and with different opinions, in different parts of the world.

Start with most likely groups


Although there are many families of moths, some families include many more species than others and are likely to make up the majority of those that come to light traps or other artificial lights. It is quite reasonable to start by assuming that a new moth is likely to belong to one of these large groups.

Posted on February 16, 2014 16:43 by dhobern dhobern | 21 comments | Leave a comment

February 15, 2014

Moth identification: 2. Useful resources

NOTE - THIS IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Part two in a series of posts on moth identification.

This post summarises the resources I find most useful for identifying moths in 1) Europe (including the UK), 2) Australia and 3) North America.

GENERAL
Web resources
There are several web resources which are likely to be useful tools regardless of the geographic area from which the moths comes.

1. 2. 3.
4.

EUROPE
Europe is in many ways easy. The fauna for most groups has been thoroughly described, so almost everything has a name. Particularly for the UK and northern Europe, there is a selection of excellent guides to larger moths and almost every family has a well-illustrated volume (or series of volumes) that provides all relevant information. The total cost for all this literature would be enormous, but there are several excellent web sites which provide good images and other information for most or all species and which may in many cases give a better idea of what the insects look like in real life.

Books
1. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6.

Depending on whether the focus is on the UK or other parts of Europe, I would recommend the following as excellent resources to get started.

The UK volumes (1, 2, 3) are more complete in their taxonomic coverage, so may be valuable for users across a much wider area of western or northern Europe (I find that the overlap with the Danish fauna is perhaps 90%) or even more widely. Note that 2 is a version of 1 that has all the paintings facing opposite a reduced text. All of these feature very good paintings of each moth, something which ensures easy comparison and a clear view of the key characters. 1 and 2 each cover all the "macrolepidopteran" families, which generally means larger species. 3 covers all the readily-identifiable British and Irish "microlepidoptera" in a similar format. Probably no other country in the world has such good books for identifying moths in the field.

The volumes of the Moths of Europe series (4, 5, 6) are rather expensive and so far only cover some groups (e.g. Noctuidae is not yet included) but already include an extraordinary number of species (these are available both in French and English). They are cheaper to buy directly from NAP Editions than from other online retailers.

Moving to more technical resources, there are several important but very expensive series series that also cover Europe as a whole. These include many images of preserved specimens and illustrations of genitalia. Noctuidae Europaeae (7) covers all of the Noctuidae/Erebidae/Micronoctuidae, the Arctiidae and the Lymantriidae in 13 volumes. The Geometrid Moths of Europe (8) will cover the Geometridae in 6 volumes, the first four of which have so far been published. Microlepidoptera of Europe (9) aims to cover all the "microlepidoptera" (basically the more primitive families, mostly comprising rather small moths) in around 20 volumes, with six already published. Pyraloidea of Europe (10) plans to cover the Pyralidae and Crambidae, with three volumes already published (with some taxonomic overlap with Microlepidoptera of Europe). All of these series are useful if you have access to them.

Two other single-family references that help to cover some of the remaining gaps are Tortricidae of Europe (11) in 2 volumes and Die Oecophoridae s. l. (Lepidoptera) Mitteleuropas (12).

Although they are in Swedish, the volumes of Nationalnyckeln (13) are intended to form a comprehensive encyclopedia of all Scandinavian plants and animals. The text includes English summaries for each species and, more importantly, very nice illustrated dual-language identification keys in Swedish and English. Three of the volumes so far published deal with moths (and one with butterflies). The volumes on Fjärilar: Käkmalar–säckspinnare / Lepidoptera: Micropterigidae–Psychidae and on Fjärilar: Bronsmalar–rullvingemalar / Lepidoptera: Roeslerstammiidae–Lyonetiidae are particularly worthwhile since these cover several micromoth families for which there is no other good modern European treatment. Coverage is only for part of northern Europe, but most British species, for example, are included. These books are rather inexpensive for what they represent.

There are many other books that address particular countries or regions or particular families or life stages within Europe. However these are the ones that I find myself actually using most often. In practice many questions can readily be resolves using the free web resources below, so only the most hardened enthusiasts are likely to need to dig into most of these volumes beyond the first few.

1. Waring, P., Townsend, M. and Lewington, R., Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (only covers UK and Ireland)
2. Waring, P., Townsend, M. and Lewington, R., Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (only covers UK and Ireland, compact version of 1 above)
3. Sterling, P., Parsons, M. and Lewington, R., Field Guide to the Micro-Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (only covers UK and Ireland)
4. Leraut, P., Moths of Europe - Volume 1, Saturnids, Lasiocampids, Hawkmoths, Tiger Moths... (French and English editions)
5. Leraut, P., Moths of Europe - Volume 2, Geometrid Moths (French and English editions)
6. Leraut, P., Moths of Europe - Volume 3, Zygaenids, Pyralids 1 (French and English editions)
7. Fibiger, M. et al., Noctuidae Europaeae
8. Hausmann, A. et al., The Geometrid Moths of Europe
9. Huemer, P. , Karsholt, O. and Lyneborg, L., Microlepidoptera of Europe
10. Slamka, F., Pyraloidea of Europe
11. Razowski, J., Tortricidae of Europe (out of print)
12. Tokár, Z., Lvovsky A. and Huemer, P., Die Oecophoridae s.l. (Lepidoptera) Mitteleuropas Bestimmung - Verbreitung - Habitat - Bionomie (German)
13. Various, Nationalnyckeln till Sveriges Flora och Fauna (Swedish with English summaries and keys)

Web resources
1. 2. 3.

AUSTRALIA
Books
. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6.

A significant proportion of Australian moths have never been described. There are many species that were named in the past using northern hemisphere genera and that are now recognised to need new genera to be created to include them. Many groups have not been revised for a century. More recent revisions are in many cases only to the level of the genus, with indications of already described species and numbers of known undescribed taxa. Becoming familar with this fauna has therefore been a significant challenge. I spent several years working alongside the Australian National Insect Collection, which made it possible for me to check known individuals of each species, but the gaps in the literature were a problem.

There are two useful volumes to get started with Australian moths. Moths of Australia (1) is the more comprehensive work. It is a technical reference with a short chapter on each family and 32 colour plates and 39 pages of black-and-white photographs showing a large number of representative species, mostly as pinned specimens. The species are well-selected and the book can be used to assign a very large proportion of specimens at least to genus or tribe. A Guide to Australian Moths (2) is a smaller book focused on photographs of live moths from each family. It complements Moths of Australia well and is particularly useful in showing the varied postures that moths adopt in different families or even within the same family, something that definitely assists with interpretation of images of pinned insects.

The booklets being produced as the Moths of Victoria (3, 4, 5, 6) series (each including a CD-ROM of additional text and images) are together starting to form something equivalent to a real field guide at least for Victoria and for the groups covered (currently including Anthelidae, Arctiidae, Bombycidae, Eupterotidae, Geometridae: Geometrinae, Geometridae: Larentiinae, Geometridae: Oenochrominae, Geometridae: Sterrhinae, Herminiidae, Lasiocampidae, Lymantriidae, Nolidae, Notodontidae, Oenosandridae, Saturniidae and Sphingidae).

The Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera (7) currently includes 11 volumes. Of these, one is a set of essays on various butterfly species and another is the Checklist of Australian Lepidoptera (now out-of-date given recent updates to the Australian Faunal Directory, which is accessible online). The remaining volumes cover the genus Fraus (Hepialidae, volume 1), the family Tineidae (generic level only, volume 2), the subfamily Oecophorinae (Oecophoridae, generic level only, volumes 3, 5 and 8), the subfamily Heliothinae (Noctuidae, volume 7), the tribe Artonini (Zygaenidae: Procridinae, volume 9), the subfamily Olethreutinae (Tortricidae, generic level only, volume 10) and the subfamily Elachistinae (Elachistidae, volume 11). All of these are useful, especially the volumes on the Oecophorinae which is a massive component in the Australian Lepidoptera. The volumes that only provide generic-level revisions contain many representative photographs and can be supplemented by web resources to check more species and to see which are commonly recorded.

Portraits of South Australian Geometrid Moths (8) is out of print and hard to find but provides comprehensive black-and-white photographs of all life stages for around 72 geometrid species.

1. Common, I.F.B., Moths of Australia (ONLY SECOND-HAND OR E-BOOK)
2. Zborowski, P. and Edwards, E., A Guide to Australian Moths
3. Marriott, P., Moths of Victoria - Part 1, Silk Moths and Allies - Bombycoidea
4. Marriott, P., Moths of Victoria - Part 2, Tiger Moths and Allies - Noctuoidea (A)
5. Marriott, P., Moths of Victoria - Part 3, Waves and Carpets - Geometridae (C)
6. Marriott, P., Moths of Victoria - Part 4, Emeralds and Allies - Geometridae (B)
7. Various, Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera
8. McFarland, N., Portraits of South Australian Geometrid Moths

Web resources
1. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6.

The most complete library of images of Australian moths derives from work to image and take barcode sequences of all Lepidoptera species in the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC). These can be viewed most conveniently at the Lepidoptera Barcode of Life: Australia Barcode Coverage page. Navigating through a family to a subfamily leads to galleries that display all photographed species in the subfamily. For each such species, the gallery image leads to a page with images for multiple specimens. If a moth is known or believed to belong to a particular subfamily, this makes it easy quickly to scan a wide range of species for a match. Not all Australian species are found in ANIC but it will include all those that have been collected by a number of dedicated professionals on expeditions all over the country so most moths that anyone finds will match individuals in the collection.

NORTH AMERICA
Books
1. 2. 3.

There is no comprehensive published guide to North American moths and the available web resources are rapidly becoming the most useful tool for identifying them. However two relatively recent books focus on different parts of the continent and in different, complementary, ways are likely to make it easier to become familiar with the moth fauna.

The new Peterson Guide (1) only covers the northeastern part of the USA with some adjacent areas in Canada. However it is easily the most accessible and useful way to see how around 1,500 of the most common species in this area appear in life. The plates are all based on photos that have been processed to show similar moths in similar positions and natural postures. Given the fact that most genera in this book include representatives across the whole continent, it would be useful anywhere in the USA or Canada (and much of Mexico too), provided that it is recognised that 1) many species are omitted even for the area covered and 2) the species from each genus that are found in other regions may not be the same ones that are found in the north-east. It is a particularly useful way to locate a likely genus as a starting-point in the Moth Photographers Group galleries. A scan of the images there of the candidate genus and those most closely related (typically a tribe or subfamily) will often quickly lead to an exact match and distribution information.

Moths of Western North America (2) is a very different book, modeled on Moths of Australia above. It is a more technical family-by-family reference and includes 58 excellent plates of pinned specimens representing all families and another 6 plates of live adults and other life stages. For those in this part of the continent, or with a deeper interest in the biology and life histories of different families, it is an excellent resource.

The various volumes of The Moths of America North of Mexico (3)each cover one or more families, subfamilies, tribes or even single genera for the USA and Canada. These are expensive and some older volumes are out of print. The plates in the earlier volumes do not reach the photographic quality that would be normal today. However, for the groups covered, these probably provide the most complete coverage, including genitalia illustrations, except in some of the earliest volumes published.

The older Peterson A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (4) and The Moth Book (5) are out of print and have lower quality images of a smaller number of species than 1 and 2, but may be a useful addition, provided allowance is made for changes in nomenclature and taxonomy. The Moth Book is out of copyright and can be viewed or downloaded in PDF and other formats from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (link below).

1. Beadle, D. and Leckie, S., Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America
2. Powell, J. and Opler, P., Moths of Western North America
3. Wedge Entomological Research Foundation, The Moths of America North of Mexico
4. Covell, C., A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America
5. Holland, W.J., The Moth Book

Web resources
1. 2.

Posted on February 15, 2014 11:59 by dhobern dhobern | 9 comments | Leave a comment

February 13, 2014

Moth identification: 1. Introduction

This may be a fool's errand, but a comment on this post has inspired me to try to write a series of posts on how I identify adult moths. This will be based mostly on experience from Europe and Australia (and to a lesser extent New Zealand and North America) but I think much of it should apply to naturalists in most parts of the world. I'll add thoughts as I have time. Dealing with other life stages is harder but I may add some comments on that later.

This series currently includes the following posts:

1. Introduction (this post)
2. Useful resources
3. Miscellaneous notes (grouped together to avoid complicating text)

In general moths are one of the easiest insect groups to identify. They can be attracted by light and easily photographed or captured for study. Wing patterns and other features are often obvious and distinctive enough to lead to species-level identifications or at least to a small number of related or confusion species.

Most of my own identifications are made on live moths or on photographs I have taken of live moths. This certainly means that I have many records for which I have no ability to get the necessary information (hindwings, underwings, genitalia, leg spurs, etc.) to reach a species-level identification. However it does also mean that it is possible to get an understanding of the lepidopteran biodiversity in a location rather quickly.

I usually set about identifying an unrecognised moth in the following way:

1) Assess likely groups
Based on resemblance to other moths, determine which taxonomic group or groups seem most likely (depending on familiarity, these groups may be superfamilies, families, subfamilies, tribes or genera).

2) Review moths from the region
For these groups, scan examples of the appearance of moths in these groups from the region in question (using images and descriptions in literature or web resources or using specimens in a collection). Access to better identification resources allows the ultimate identification to be more precise.

3) Evaluate possible matches
If a potential match is found, check for further information (other images, distribution, flight seasons, etc.) to determine plausibility.

4) Check relatives
If the match seems good and there are resources which list species known from the region, check close relatives (typically same genus) to see whether these are equally or more likely. This will determine how precisely it is safe to identify the moth.

5) If necessary, expand search
If nothing matches, return to 1) above and reconsider whether other taxonomic groups may be relevant.

This process becomes more and more efficient with increasing familiarity with the fauna from the region. Over time, familiarity is gained with the range of moths found in a region and most new individuals can be assigned to the most probable family, subfamily or genus using overall appearance and resemblance to other species. Getting to this level of familiarity involves using three tools:

Personal communication with knowledgeable naturalists, particularly in the field, but even contacts only known through email are highly useful.

Good, well-illustrated literature, in particular field guides that show moths in live positions. Most illustrated literature used photographs, although good paintings may make comparison easier.

Web resources, particularly those that provide easy ways to scan through illustrations of the range of species in a particular taxon from a given region. Such comparison with large numbers of species is usually easiest if the images are of pinned specimens - making the mental adjustment to map the patterns on a live species onto a spread specimen only takes a little practice.

I have created a post reviewing the literature and web resources I have found most useful for identifying moths, particularly in in Europe, Australia and North America.

Subsequent posts will explore how this applies with real moths.

Posted on February 13, 2014 19:26 by dhobern dhobern | 4 comments | Leave a comment