A new caddisfly

 

Nemotaulius hostilis
Nemotaulius hostilis

 

There are about 277 species of caddisflies in Minnesota but my list of caddisflies from Carlton County is dismally low at only eight species three of which are of uncertain identification plus several unknowns. So when I saw this caddisfly a last week (May 31) I felt pretty sure I had a new species to add to the checklist. And it was. This caddisfly species is Nemotaulius hostilis which in Minnesota is known from several counties in the northern forested region of the state (Houghton 2012).

 

Taxonomy
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Trichoptera (Caddisflies)
Suborder Integripalpia
Infraorder Plenitentoria
Superfamily Limnephiloidea
Family Limnephilidae (Northern Caddisflies)
Subfamily Limnephilinae
Tribe Limnephilini
Genus/species Nemotaulius hostilis

Larvae
The larvae of Nemotaulius hostilis build cases from large leaf fragments in such a way that they are sandwiched between the layers (Houghton 2012). This is in contrast to the larval cases of other caddisfly species are tubular or rectangular in cross-section. Larvae live in lakes, marshes, and sluggish streams with thick beds of aquatic macrophytes where they feed on plant debris (Houghton 2012). The small stream that meanders through my property with its abandoned channels and ox-bows contains many sites with dense aquatic vegetation where I hope to find Nemotaulius hostilis larvae later this summer.

Description
The following description of Nemotaulius hostilis is after Schmid (1952), Nimmo (1971), and Houghton (2012). Adult N. hostilis are between 25 and 30 mm long. The coloration and patterning of the forewings is the most conspicuous feature. These are a mixture of solid areas of color, mostly shades of brown, gray-brown, or even black, mixed with clear irrorate (speckled) areas. Schmid says of the translucent speckling (“macules claires”) on the wings that it is “more extensive than in other species” and the wings are “riddled” with them (“l’aile dont toute la surface est criblée de macules claires plus grosses que chez les autres espèces”). The costa is hyaline with some basal irroration. About mid-way on the forewings is a narrow, slanted bright zone. The scalloped wing tips are a distinctive feature.

Range
Nemotaulius hostilis occurs from Newfoundland to Alberta and Alaska, and from New England to the Great Lakes Region, also in Colorado (Nimmo 1971).

Ecological importance
Case-making caddisflies (there are several families) like Nemotaulius hostilis feed by shredding dead leaves and other plant parts that fall into the water or were growing in the water. Some case-making species are predators on small invertebrates while others scrap the fine layer of fungi, diatoms, and bacteria that grow on submerged objects usually wood. A small number of species feed on living plants or construct nets to trap prey or fine particles on which they feed. Shredders and scrappers are especially important in nutrient and energy cycling in forested streams which receive little direct sunlight that would support photosynthetic plants like algae with their ability to produce carbohydrates. In these systems cellulose and lignified woody plant tissue become primary carbohydrate sources which are first acted upon by bacteria and fungi before the insect larvae consume them. Further processing occurs in the gut of the larvae with the help of symbiotic bacteria which reside there. Organisms that feed on caddisfly larvae and adults thus benefit from the ability of the larvae to transform inedible wood and rotting leaves into edible insect bodies. (see Anderson et al. 1978, Wallace 1996, Cummins 2002, Feio et al 2005, Houghton 2007, Resh et al. 2011)

And this one
I found this caddisfly Monday night (June 4). It is one of the giant casemaker caddisflies in the Superfamily Phryganeoidea that is probably Ptilostomis ocellifera, a species which is widespread and common in Minnesota. More on Ptilostomis ocellifera in an upcoming post.

 

Ptilostomis ocellifera caddisfly trichoptera
Ptilostomis ocellifera

 

SOURCES

Anderson, N. H, Sedell, J. R., . Roberts, M, and F. J. Triska, J. (1978). The Role of Aquatic Invertebrates in Processing of Wood Debris in Coniferous Forest Streams. The American Midland Naturalist, 100(1):64-82

Cummins, Kenneth W. (2002). Riparian-stream Linkage Paradigm. Verhandlungen des Internationalen Verein Limnologie, 28:49-58.

Feio, Maria J., Vieira-Lanero, Rufino, Ferreira, Veronica , and Graça, Manuel A. S. (2005). The role of the environment in the distribution and composition of Trichoptera assemblages in streams. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie, 164(4):493–512.

Houghton, David C . (2007). The effects of landscape-level disturbance on the composition of Minnesota caddisfly (Insecta: Trichoptera) trophic functional groups: evidence for ecosystem homogenization. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 135(1-3):253-64

Houghton, David C . (2012). Biological diversity of the Minnesota caddisflies (Insecta, Trichoptera). ZooKeys 189:1–389. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.189.2043. Description of Nemotaulius hostilis on page 259.

Nimmo, Andrew P. (1971) The Adult Rhyacophilidae and Limnephilidae (Trichoptera) of Alberta and Eastern British Columbia and Their Post-glacial Origin. Quaestiones entomologicae 7:3-234. Description of Nemotaulius hostilis on page 124.

Resh, Vincent H. , Hannaford, Morgan , Jackson, John K. , Lamberti, Gary A., and Mendez, Patina K. (2011). The biology of the limnephilid caddisfly Dicosmoecus gilvipes (Hagen) in Northern California and Oregon (USA) Streams. Zoosymposia, 5:413–419.

Schmid, Fernand. (1952). Les genres Glyphotaelius Steph. et Nemotaulius BKS (Trichop. Limnophil.). Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 65(280):231-244. Description of Nemotaulius hostilis on pages 229 to 231.

Wallace, J. Bruce. (1996). The Role of Macroinvertebrates in Stream Ecosystem Function. Annual Review of Entomology, 41:115-139.

Moth Checklist Update

 

Its been a busy month and a half of mothing so far with many new species and as well as returning species seen last summer. As of May 31 the moth checklist for 2018 is now at 57 species with a combined checklist for 2017 and 2018 of 225 species. There are also many new ones in the “Unknown Moths” file. The latest checklist additions, all observed between May 26 and May 31, are Argyrotaenia marianaHelcystogramma melanocarpaAcronicta morulaElaphria versicolorEucosma awemeana, Petrophora subaequaria, Acronicta interrupta, Ancylis albacostanaLeuconycta diphteroides, Ectropis crepusculariaOrthofidonia flavivenata, Palpita magniferalisBibarrambla allenellaPlagodis pulverariaMonopis monachella, Pero morrisonariaApotomis funereaSemioscopis packardella, Tacparia desertata, Hydriomena renunciata, and Galgula partita. Returning species include Caloptilia stigmatella, Pseudeustrotia carneolaEuphyia intermediata, Tetracis crocallata, Gluphisia septentrionalis, Prochoerodes lineola, Metanema determinata, Metanema inatomaria, Plutella xylostella, Clostera albosigma, Acronicta lobeliae, and Idia americalis.

 

A sparkling shiny new moth

 

Another micro-moth identified. This one is a Tinted Moth or White-headed Monopis Moth (Monopis monachella, Family Tineidae). It showed up under my porch light a few nights ago. From a distance it looks like a grain of burned rice but close up it is very beautiful with a white furry head and thorax, and dark purplish wings that are decorated with iridescent blue scales, a pearly white patch, and fringes at the the upturned end of the wing.

The genus Monopsis has some very unusual feeding preferences. Monopis moth larvae feed on a variety of substances that we do not commonly associate with moth caterpillars which by and large eat leaves or other live plant parts. Instead, Monopsis larvae feed on feathers, fur, wool, dried skin and other less digestible parts of animal carcasses, owl pellets, bird droppings, and carnivore scat. In a Korean study feathers were used to bait traps to catch two species of Monopsis. A species of Monopsis has also been discovered that lives in bat caves feeding on guano and other debris.

Taxonomy
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Tineoidea (Tubeworm, Bagworm, and Clothes Moths)
Family Tineidae (Clothes Moths, Fungus Moths)
Subfamily Tineinae
Genus/species Monopis monachella

Description
The following description is a summary after After Dietz (1905), Forbes (1923), Guo-Hua et al. (2011), and Bug Guide. Wings dark reddish brown (“purple black” in Guo-Hua et al. 2011) with ashy gray-brown spots, the costa trapezoidal, pearly white, extending from mid-wing to the tip, its edges diagonal. The diagonal edge of the costa encloses a translucent or vitreous circle which is typical of all Monopis. There are a few white scales are on the rounded wing tip. The head and thorax are white, antennae dark brown. Length approximately 5 mm.

Range
In the broad sense M. monachella has a near worldwide distribution. However, recent studies suggest that M. monachella is actually a collection of many morphologically similar looking species that can be reliably told apart only by DNA.

Larval Hosts
Larvae of M. monachella are reported to feed on animal remains that contain keratin (keratophagous) such as dried skin, feathers and other remains in bird nests, fur, wool and owl pellets which are the regurgitated bits of animals containing fur and bones an owl cannot digest. Some members of the genus are chitinophagous, that is, they can eat and digest fungi, the cell walls of which contain chitin, and the chitinous exoskeletons of arthropods. The larvae live in portable silken tubes.

 

SOURCES

Bong-Kyu Byun, Sat-Byul Shin, Yang-Seop Bae, Do Sung Kim, Yong Geun Choi. (2014). First discovery of a cave-dwelling Tineid moth (Lepidoptera, Tineidae) from East Asia. Journal of Forestry Research  25(3): 647-651.

Dietz, William G. (1905). Revision of the Genera and Species of the Tineid Subfamilies Amydrinae and Tineinae inhabiting North America. Transactions of the American Entomoligical Society, 31(1): 1-95 with six plates. Description of Monopis monachella on pages 30 to 33.

Dong-June Lee, Young-Don Ju, Ulziijargal Bayarsaikhan, Bo-Sun Park, Sol-Moon Na, Jae-Won Kim, Bong-Woo Lee, Yang-Seop Bae. (2016). First report on two species of genus Monopis (Lepidoptera, Tineidae) collected by feather trap in Korea. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity 9: 215-218

Forbes, William T. M. (1923). Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, 1923, Memoir #68: Lepidoptera of New York and Neighboring States. Description of Monopis monachella on page 132.

Guo-Hua Huang, Liu-Sheng Chen, Toshiya Hirowatari, Yoshitsugu Nasu, and Ming Wang. (2011). A revision of the Monopis monachella species complex (Lepidoptera: Tineidae) from China. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 163: 1-14.

Genus Monopis at Bug Guide web site.

Monopis monachella at HOSTS web site.

Monopis monachella at NIC.FUNET.FI web site.

Monopsis monachella at Svenska fjärilar web site.

Species Monopis monachella – White-headed Monopis – Hodges#0418 at Bug Guide web site.

 

I finally found it

 

Ancylis albacostana that is. This was the moth species I believed I had found twice before but was wrong each time being thrown by the white wing margins. This time it is the real deal and was confirmed at Bug Guide last night. The first “discovery” was made several weeks ago after going through photos from last summer. The second was in late April after seeing another moth with a white stripe along its wing edge. It later turned out that these were two different species. The first one turned out to be Capis curvata and the second Acleris celiana. I’ve added photos of Capis curvata and Acleris celiana for comparison with this new moth so that the differences and similarities can be seen.

This moth, which I found on Monday night, fits Kearfott’s description of Ancylis albacostana very well: “Fore wing lead color, rather heavily overlaid on inner two-thirds below the costa [main vein along leading edge of wing] with brownish and blackish scales. From the base to the apex on the costa is a pure white band, widest at end of cell, where it is nearly a quarter the width of wing; continuing to base with only a trifle less width, and lower edge curving evenly into costa and ending in a point at apex.”

Heinrich (1923) says of Ancylis albacostana: “A striking species at once to be recognized by the shining white unmarked costa of fore wing.”

Taxonomy
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Family Tortriciodae (Tortricid Moths)
Family Tortricidae
Subfamily Olethreutinae
Tribe Enarmoniini
Genus/species Ancylis albacostana

Acleris celiana is also in the Superfamily Tortricidae, Family Tortricidae but separated to the Subfamily Tortricinae and Capis curvata is in the Superfamily Noctuoidea and Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths).

Range
A. albacostana is known from a few locations in nine states Indiana, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina) and three Canadian provinces (New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario). In the Alberta Lepidopterists Guild 2011 spring newsletter there is a tentative report of A. albacostana from Medicine Hat, Alberta collected in 2009. The same report also mentions A. albacostana from Minnesota and Manitoba. Tortricid.net notes it was found in Manitoba in 1905 and that the specimen, which is shown on the web page, is housed in the U.S. National Entomological Collection a part of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The Minnesota occurrence of Aalbacostana is referenced by Miller (1987) in Guide to the Olethreutine Moths of Midland North American Moths (Tortricidae) in the description of A. albacostana on page 82: “Forewing 7.5 to 8.5 mm long, dark areas grayish brown or brownish black. Adults captured May 29-June 30. Ml, MN.” It does not seem that a year for the collections is given in the paper.

Larval Host Plants
Caterpillars of A. albacostana feed on leaves of maple (Acer spp.).

 

SOURCES
Ancylis albacostana – White-edged Ancylis Moth – Kearfott, 1905 at Moth Photographers Group.

Ancylis albacostana Kearfott 1905 at Tortricid.net

Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild Newsletter – Spring 2011 on page 15.

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Kearfott, W. D. (1905). Descriptions of New Species of Tortricid Moths From North Carolina, With Notes. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, Vol. 28: 319-364. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 360.

Grehan, J. R., B. L. Parker, G. R. Nielsen, D. H. Miller, J. D. Hedbor, M. S. Sabourin, and M. S. Griggs. (1995). Moths and Butterflies of Vermont (Lepoidoptera): A Faunal Checklist. A joint Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station and State of Vermont publication. Misc. Publication 1167, VMC Bulletin 1. 86 pages. Vermont occurrence of Ancylis albacostana on page 16.

Heinrich, C. (1923). Revision of the North American moths of the subfamily Eucosminae of the family Olethreutidae. United States National Museum Bulletin. 123:1-298. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 253.

Miller, W. E. (1987). Guide to the Olethreutine Moths of Midland North America (Tortricidae). United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 660. 110 pages. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 82.

Species Ancylis albacosta – White-edged Ancylis Moth – Hodges#3387 at Bug Guide.

Species Acleris celiana – Hodges#3533 at Bug Guide

Species Capis curvata – Curved Halter Moth – Hodges#9059 at Bug Guide.

A Moth Among the Ferns

Northern Petrophora (Petrophora subaequaria)

 

I was out taking a walk Sunday afternoon and saw many different small moths flying out from hiding in the grass and blueberry bushes. Most were too small and fast to get a good look at them. The one shown above flew and ducked under some grass blades just long enough for me to get a few snapshots before it took off. Later I went out again and saw dozens of them in a forest clearing full of bracken fern. The species is Northern Petrophora (Petrophora subaequaria, Family Geometridae) and its larvae feed only on ferns with bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) apparently the principle host plant. Photos at Bug Guide show the larvae on fronds of Osmunda fern.

 

Some brief information on Northern Petrophora (Petrophora subaequaria)

Taxonomy
Superfamily Geometroidea (Geometrid and Swallowtail Moths)
Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)
Subfamily Ennominae
Tribe Lithinini
Genus/species Petrophora subaequaria

Description
Wing span to 19 mm, speckled tan forewings with yellowish veins, antemedial and postmedial lines white edged and parallel. There is a small black dot in the center of the wings.

Life cycle
As with many moths not directly injurious to crops and forestry there is little information on the life history of Northern Petrophora. With so many adult moths appearing now in my bracken field it seems that mating and egg laying occur in the spring.

Range
Northern Petrophora occurs in North America from New Brunswick to Alberta, along the Great Lakes east to New England, and then south sporadically along the Appalachians to North Carolina.

 

SOURCES

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Voss, Edward G. (1991) “Moths of the Douglas Lake Region (Emmet and Cheboygan Counties), Michigan: IV. Geometridae (Lepidoptera),” The Great Lakes Entomologist: Vol. 24 : No. 3 , Article 11. Available at: http://scholar.valpo.edu/tgle/vol24/iss3/11

Species accounts at Bug Guide, Moth Photographers Group, HOSTS,

 

 

 

Night of the Micros

 

For some reason micro-moths (not a proper taxonomic group but a group of convenience) were well represented under my porch light the past two nights. Getting a clear picture of these 2 to 4 mm long moths is no easy task with a cellphone and some are just tantalizing blurs. Still, I recorded fourteen species of micro-moths which, with the exception of Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella, Family Plutellidae), a Leaf Blotch Miner Moth (Caloptilia stigmatella, Family Gracillariidae), and Many-plume Moth (Alucita montana, Family Alucitidae), and two species of Agonopterix (Agonopterix pulvipennella and Agonopterix atrodorsella, Family Depressariidae), are unidentified. There are two micro-moths, Mompha (Family Momphidae) and Parornix (Family Gracillariidae), identified to genus only because microscopic features are necessary for accurate determination.

As for larger moths (macro-moths) six species were seen. They are Sigmoid Prominent (Clostera albosigma, Family Notodontidae), Powdered Bigwing (Lobophora nivigerata, Family Geometridae), Small engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia, Family Geometridae), Bicolored Woodgrain (Morrisonia evicta, Family Noctuidae), Norman’s Quaker Moth (Crocigrapha normani, Family Noctuidae), and Large Ruby Tiger Moth (Phragmatobia assimilans, Family Erebidae).

Morrisonia evicta, Crocigrapha normani, Ectropis crepuscularia, Phragmatobia assimilans, and Agonopterix atrodorsella are new records as are Mompha (M. luciferella?) and Parornix (P. obliterella?), neither of which can be properly identified to species by visual inspection of gross morphology alone, thus bringing the moth checklist up to 204 species.

 

 

Some brief notes on the new macro-moths and the micro-moth Agonopterix atrodorsella

Morrisonia evicta
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
Subfamily Noctuinae (Cutworm or Dart Moths)
Tribe Orthosiini

Larval host plants: A large variety of woody plants including blueberry (Vaccinium), cherry (Prunus), chokeberry (Aronia), dogwood (Cornus), and hazel (Corylus).
Range: Northeastern US to Georgia and North Carolina and southern Canada. Scattered reports from Montana, Florida, and Texas.

 

Crocigrapha normani
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
Subfamily Noctuinae (Cutworm or Dart Moths)
Tribe Orthosiini

Larval Host plants: ash (Fraxinus), aspen (Populus), birch (Betula), cherry and plum (Prunus), oak (Quercus), mountain ash (Sorbus), elm (Ulmus), and willow (Salix).
Range: Northeastern US to Georgia and South Carolina and in southern Canada.

 

Phragmatobia assimilans
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Erebidae
Subfamily Arctiinae (Tiger and Lichen Moths)
Tribe Arctiini (Tiger Moths)
Subtribe Spilosomina

Larval Host plants: balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), raspberry (Rubus), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera).
Range: Northeastern US to Georgia and South Carolina and in southern Canada.

 

Ectropis crepuscularia
Superfamily Geometroidea (Geometrid and Swallowtail Moths)
Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)
Subfamily Ennominae
Tribe Boarmiini

Larval Host plants: balsam fir (Abies balsamea), hemlock (Tsuga canadense), larch (Larix), spruce (Picea), apple (Malus), alder (Alnus) and many other tree and shrub species.
Range: Over much of North America and in Eurasia.

Agonopterix atrodorsella
Superfamily Gelechioidea (Twirler Moths and kin)
Family Depressariidae
Subfamily Depressariinae

Larval Host plants: joe-pye weed (Eupatorium), beggars ticks (Coreopsis and Bidens).
Range: New England, Great Lakes Region, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and few locations in Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina.

 

Agonopterix atrodorsella

 

SOURCES

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Species accounts at Bug Guide, BAMONA, HOSTS, and Moth Photographers Group.

Two new species last night

 

I didn’t find five new species last night like I had hoped to but I did find two, Curved-toothed Geometer (Eutrapela clemataria) in the Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths) and Gray Leafroller (Syndemis afflictana) in the Family Tortricidae (Tortricid Moths), which, like almost all the moths I’ve found to date, are new records for Carlton County. These two species bring the checklist to 197 species.

Curved-toothed Geometer is similar in appearance to Large Maple Spanworm (Prochoerodes lineola, Family Geometridae) but can be told apart by its scalloped wing margins, hooked wing tips, and the pale yellow postmedial line across the forewings. Color of the forewings varies from light brown to dark purplish brown to brownish gray and may be mottled with fine spots. The range of Curved-toothed Geometer is east of the Mississippi River and north into southern Canada. Larvae of Curved-toothed Geometer feed on many trees including ash (Fraxinus spp.), basswood (Tilia spp.), birch (Betula spp.), elm (Ulmus spp.), and poplar (Populus spp.).

Two moths seen in the last several days returned: Agonopterix pulvipennella (Family Depressariidae) and Black-dashed Hydriomena (Hydriomena divisaria, Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)).

 

 

And there were some moths first seen here last summer. Two of them, Pale Metanema (Metanema inatomaria) and Dark Metanema (Metanema determinata) are in the Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths). The other, Apical Prominent (Clostera apicalis), is in the Family Notodontidae (Prominent Moths) and is one of two species of Clostera I have found the other being Sigmoid Prominent (C. albosigma). Apical Prominent differs from Sigmoid Prominent by the wavy postmedial line that borders a large rust colored apical patch and by the kinked oblique median line of the forewing as compared to the parallel lines of Sigmoid Prominent. The larvae of all four species feed on aspen (Populus spp.) and willows (Salix spp.). These moth species occur over most of the US and southern Canada.

 

 

Although I am feeling a bit tired I think I will put in a few hours tonight looking for moths again.

SOURCES

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Species accounts at Bug Guide and Moth Photographers Group.