Izatha (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea: Oeco­phoridae)

Robert J B Hoare

Abstract


The endemic New Zealand genus Izatha Walker (Oecophoridae) is revised. Forty species are recognised, including the following 15 species described as new: Izatha blepharidota n. sp., I. dasydisca n. sp., I. dulcior n. sp., I. gekkonella n. sp., I. gibbsi n. sp., I. haumu n. sp., I. katadiktya n. sp., I. lignyarcha n. sp., I. minimira n. sp., I. notodoxa n. sp., I. quinquejacula n. sp., I. spheniscella n. sp., I. taingo n. sp., I. voluptuosa n. sp. and I. walkerae n. sp. Three new synonymies are established: Zirosaris amorbas Meyrick and Trachypepla amorbas Meyrick are sunk as junior subjective synonyms of I. copiosella (Walker) and I. plumbosa Philpott as a junior subjective synonym of I. mira Philpott. Izatha huttonii Butler is removed from synonymy with I. peroneanella (Walker), and I. acmonias Philpott from synonymy with I. picarella (Walker). Izatha griseata Hudson is removed from Oecophoridae and transferred to Gelechiidae as a junior subjective synonym of Anarsia dryinopa Lower. The adults of all species are described and illustrated in colour, along with the genitalia of both sexes, where known. Larvae are briefly described for all species for which positive associations have been made. Seven informal species-groups are recognised, based on characters of the head, wing pattern, and male and female genitalia.

The larvae of most species that have been reared feed in dead rotten wood, but the larvae of I. gekkonella n. sp. and probably I. convulsella (Walker) and I. phaeoptila (Meyrick) feed on lichens (and/or epiphytic mosses), and I. prasophyta Meyrick was once reared from a fruiting body of the bracket fungus Bjerkandera adusta. The systematic position of Izatha is discussed: it is assigned to the Hierodoris group of Hoare, and is considered most closely related to dead-wood feeding members of the genus Gymnobathra Meyrick, which is also endemic to New Zealand.The diversity and distribution patterns of Izatha are discussed. It is the second largest genus of true (i.e. non-pyraloid) Microlepidoptera in New Zealand after Tingena (Oecophoridae), though Stigmella (Nepticulidae) when revised will probably rival Izatha in diversity. Among New Zealand Lepidoptera genera containing over 30 species, Izatha is unique in having more species endemic to the North Island than to the South Island: 22 species are confined to the North Island (including offshore islands), 10 to the South Island, and 6 are shared between both islands; 2 further species are endemic to the subantarctic Snares Islands. This pattern of diversity is similar to that observed in other insect groups associated with dead wood and fungi in forest habitats, e.g., Aradidae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera), and may reflect the persistence of greater areas of forest refugia in the North Island (especially Northland) during the last glaciation.

Izatha displays remarkable diversity in the structure of the genitalia, and this is discussed with respect to sexual selection and sexually antagonistic coevolution. Males of many species have strongly spinose phalli, and there is evidence of corresponding damage to the female genital tract. Females of some species have the ductus bursae strongly reinforced with sclerotised scobinations. A group of 11 predominantly North Island species have deciduous cornuti in the male vesica, which are left behind in the female tract after mating; all cornuti are apparently committed to the first mating. From spermatophore counts, the females are known to mate up to 4 times.

Adult Izatha are cryptically patterned bark and/or lichen mimics. Most species have raised scale-tufts on labial palpi, legs, and forewings that enhance the crypsis; the forewing tufts consist of strongly curled scales. The shining leaden or golden iridescent undersides of the curled scales may further break up the pattern; the iridescence is due to the very fine corrugations of the lower scale lamina, which act as a diffraction grating.

Most species of Izatha are widespread, although some are known from very few localities. Species likely to be endemic to restricted areas are I. quinquejacula n.sp. (Three Kings Islands), I. haumu n. sp. and I. taingo n. sp. (Aupouri peninsula), I. dulcior n. sp. (Poor Knights Islands), and I. oleariae Dugdale and I. spheniscella n. sp. (Snares Islands). Three species are considered of immediate conservation concern: I. rigescens Meyrick, not collected since its discovery on the Wellington coast in 1929, I. psychra (Meyrick), currently only known from a single Mackenzie Country shrubland, which is vulnerable to fire and pine invasion, and I. caustopa (Meyrick), which has been seen only 3 times in the last 70 years, and may have been affected by the decline of its only known host tree, Fuchsia excorticata, due to attack by introduced possums.

Checklist of taxa

Genus Izatha Walker, 1864a
     Aochleta Meyrick, 1884
     Semiocosma Meyrick, 1884
     Zirosaris Meyrick, 1910

     attactella-group
attactella Walker, 1864a
     platyptera (Meyrick, 1888)
blepharidota new species
voluptuosa new species
austera (Meyrick, 1884)
psychra (Meyrick, 1884)

     mira-group
copiosella (Walker, 1864b)
     amorbas (Meyrick, 1910), new synonymy
     amorbas (Meyrick, 1911), new synonymy
walkerae new species
florida Phipott, 1927a
mira Philpott, 1913
     plumbosa Phipott, 1927a, new synonymy

     apodoxa-group
notodoxa new species
katadiktya new species
apodoxa (Meyrick, 1888)
acmonias Philpott, 1921, reinstated species
lignyarcha new species
picarella (Walker, 1864a)
     teras (Felder & Rogenhofer, 1875)

     balanophora-group
metadelta Meyrick, 1905
     percnitis Meyrick, 1909
balanophora (Meyrick, 1897)
     milligani Phipott, 1927a
churtoni Dugdale, 1988
     picarella var. ß (Walker, 1864a)
dulcior new species
epiphanes (Meyrick, 1884)
mesoschista Meyrick, 1931
haumu new species
quinquejacula new species
heroica Philpott, 1926
     toreuma Clarke, 1926
hudsoni Dugdale, 1988
huttonii (Butler, 1879), reinstated species
     mystis (Meyrick, 1888), transferred synonymy
peroneanella (Walker, 1864a)
     adapertella (Walker, 1864a)
     lichenella (Walker, 1864a)
taingo new species

     oleariae-group
oleariae Dugdale, 1971
spheniscella new species
prasophyta (Meyrick, 1884)

     caustopa-group
caustopa (Meyrick, 1892)
dasydisca new species
manubriata Meyrick, 1923

     convulsella-group
convulsella (Walker, 1864a)
     paraneura (Meyrick, 1892)
gekkonella new species
gibbsi new species
minimira new species
rigescens Meyrick, 1929
phaeoptila (Meyrick, 1905)


Keywords


Lepidoptera; Gelechioidea; Oechophoridae; oecophorid moths; Taxonomy; biology; phylogeny; new species; keys; conservation; sexual antagonism

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