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Adelites Rebel, 1934

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Adelites Rebel, 1934a: 373.
Type: Adelites electreella Rebel, 1934b: 15.

Synonyms, misspellings, wrong determinations, etc.:


Description of adults: Very small to small moths (forewing length app. 3.6 - 7.0 mm); caput with erect, hair-like scales; frons covered with smooth scales, metallic shining; maxillary palpi 3-segmented, moderately long; labial palpi 3-segmented, of appr. the same length as maxillary palpi; proboscis present, but short, slightly curled only; eyes distinctly enlarged in , normal in ; distance of eyes greater than diameter also in ; antennae short, less than forewing length or as long as forewing; antennae of with comb-like structure along whole length, consisting of an erect scale each on both sides of every segment; antennae of simple, filiform; wings and legs metallic shining; spur formula 0-2-4; abdomen of conical, with ovipositor.


So far, members of Adelites are known only from the Baltic region from amber deposits, the latter having an assumed age of app. 44.1 Ma (Ritzowski 1997) and thus belonging to the Lutetian period of the Eocene (app. 50 Ma following Hoffeins in litt.). In this region the genus, however, is well represented, since already 4 species are known from this period.


Members of Adelites are inhabitants of the amber wood biocenosis. In a relatively warm period in the Eocene, the amber wood stretched from Scandinavia to the Ural Mountains in a broad belt. In the south, it was bordered by an ocean, which reached far into eastern Europe and Asia. The wood consisted of coniferous trees, mainly Pinus succinifera and ancestors of the recent genus Pseudolarix, similar plant associations being present also in North America and throughout temperate Asia (all information retrieved from wikipedia 2010). Gymnosperms and Angiosperms have been plentiful developed already in that wood (e.g. Goeppert & Menge 1883). The climate has been assumed to be mild and wet, the wood itself to be marshy.

The enlargement of the eyes in males makes it probable, that the animals were heliophilous, swarming along wood edges, on clearings or even in the treetop of the wood. Furthermore, it seems possible that males were swarming together in order to attract females as is observed in recent Adela and Nemophora species. This behaviour is indicated not only by the enlarged eyes, but also by the metallic shining colouring of the animals.


Adelites Rebel, 1934 is distinguished from the recent Cauchas Zeller, 1839 by the comb-like structure on the antennae and the enlarged eyes of the . From Adela Latreille, 1896 and Nemphora Hoffmannsegg, 1798, the genus differs by the short antennae, which do not exceed the forewing length, even in . From both, Adelites also differs by the short haustellum, which is reduced like in some African Ceromitia Zeller, 1852. The latter however have antennae exceeding the forewing length and maxillary palpi with more than 3 segments.

Phylogeny<: Although comparatively short, the antennae are elongated compared to the incurvarioid ground plan. This character is regarded to be an autapomorphy of Adelidae (Davis 1998). Other autapomorphies are nor visible in the fossil specimens, since they concern inner morphology. Further characters supporting the adelid assignment are 5 free R-branches, with R5 running to costa and the basal fork of A1+A2. The 3-segmented maxillary palpi assign Adelites to the subfamily Adelinae, in contrast to Nematopogoniae, which have 4 to 5-segmented maxillary palpi. The comb-like structure of scales on the antennae of is very reminiscent of the similar structure in the genus Nemophora, but is found along the whole length of the antennae, whereas in Nemophora spines are present only on the app. 10 basal segments. Adela on the contrary have one or two clasp-like organs near the antennal base, which are absent in Adelites. Adelites therefore might be the sistergroup of Nemophora or even a direct precursor, since fossil records of Nemophora are unknown so far.

Worth knowing:


Bernstein. In: Wikipedia, Die freie Enzyklopädie. Bearbeitungsstand: 1. Februar 2010, 19:30 UTC. URL: http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bernstein&oldid=70103709 [visited 4 February 2010, 13:50 UTC].
Davis, D. R. 1998. The Monotrysian Heteroneura: 65-90. – In: N. P. Kristensen (ed.), Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies. Vol. 1: Evolution, systematics, and biogeography. – In: M. Fischer (ed.), Handbook of Zoology. Vol. IV Arthropoda: Insecta, Part 35. – Walter De Gruyter, Berlin and New York.
Goeppert, H. R. & A. Menge 1883. Die Flora des Bernsteins und ihre Beziehungen zur Flora der Tertiärformation und der Gegenwart. 2 Bde., Commissions-Verlag von Wilh. Engelmann in Leipzig. Danzig.
Rebel, H. 1934a. Mikrolepidopteren aus dem baltischen Bernstein. Forschungen und Fortschritte, 10 (80): 372–373.
Rebel, H. 1934b. Bernstein-Lepidopteren (aus der Sammlung Bachofen-Echt). Palaeobiologia 6: 1-16, pl. 1.
Ritzkowski, S. 1997. Geschichte der Bernsteinsammlung der Albertus-Universität zu Königsberg i. Pr., Verlag Glückauf GmbH, Essen.

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2015.11.13
Kurz Michael: 2015.12.09
not reviewed