How pygmy moths started to diversify 100 million years ago
The leaf-mining pygmy moths (family Nepticulidae) and the white eyecap moths (family Opostegidae) are among the smallest moths in the world with a wingspan of just a few millimetres. Their caterpillars make characteristic patterns in leaves: leaf mines. For the first time, the evolutionary relationships of the more than 1000 species have been analysed on the basis of DNA, resulting in a new classification.
|A watercolour of one species of pygmy moth from Australia, Roscidotoga callicomae Hoare, 2000. |
Wingspan: 6.0 mm [Credit: Roland Johansson]
|A larva of an undescribed species of pygmy moth on beech (Fagus) in Japan |
[Credit: Camiel Doorenweerd, Naturalis]
|The newly described genus and species Ozadelpha conostegiae Van Nieukerken & Nishida, 2016 from Costa Rica, sitting |
on a leaf of its host plant Conostegia oerstediana [Credit: Kenji Nishida]
Creating such a large and comprehensive overview became possible from the moths and leaf-mine collections of the world's natural history museums, and culminates the past 35 years of research that van Nieukerken has spent on this group. However, a small, but not trivial, note in one of the publications indicates that we can expect at least another 1000 species of pygmy leafminer moths that are yet undiscovered.
Source: Naturalis Biodiversity Center [October 31, 2016]