N A T U R K U N D L I C H E S   I N F O R M A T I O N S S Y S T E M

Micropterix Hübner, [1825]

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Micropterix Hübner, 1825b: 426
Type: Tinea podevinella Hübner, 1813, by original designation

Synonyms, misspellings, wrong determinations, etc.:
Micropteryx Zeller, 1839: 185 (unjustified emendation).
Eriocephala Curtis, 1839: pl. 751. Type species: Phalaena (Tinea) calthella Linnaeus, 1761, by monotypy.
Microptericina Zagulajev, 1983: 113. Type species: Micropteryx amasiella Staudinger, 1880, by original designation.

Habit:

Ground colour bronzy golden, nearly devoid of any markings: Micropterix calthella (Linnaeus, 1761) : Tuscany, province of Pisa, near Laura, Lorenzana, 1995.05.07, coll. Michael Kurz Ground colour reddish golden with silvery-white markings: Micropterix renatae Kurz, Kurz & Zeller, 1997, Allotype : Italy, Tuscany, Alpi Apuane, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, 1993.05.14, coll. Michael Kurz Ground colour reddish golden with silvery-white markings: Micropterix jeanneli Viette, 1949 PARATYE: Montenegro, Prokletije, near Gusinje, Vusanje, July, coll. NHMW Ground colour reddish golden with broad whitish fasciae: Micropterix monticolella Kozlov, 1982: NW-Caucasus, Teberda, 2500 m, Dshamagat valley, 1974.06.04, leg. Eichler, coll. ZSM
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Ground colour reddish golden with light golden markings: Micropterix aureoviridella (Höfner, 1898) : Austria, Salzburg, Pongau, Hochkönig, Kaserfeld-Mandlwand, 1750 m, 1994.07.02, coll. Michael Kurz Ground colour purple-violet with three golden fasciae: Micropterix trifasciella Heath, 1965 : France, Hautes Alpes, Isoard Col Perdu, 2400 m, 1988.07.21, leg. Gibeaux, coll. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ground colour purple-violet with golden fasciae and additional spots: Micropterix schaefferi Heath, 1975 : Austria, Salzburg, Hohe Tauern, Stubachtal, Enzingerboden, 1500 m, 1994.05.13, coll. Michael Kurz Micropterix minimella Heath, 1973 is the smallest known species of Micropterix: , Spain, Balearic Islands, Mallorca, Paguera, 1970.04, leg. Klimesch, coll. ZSM, München
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view

Adult Micropterix have a forewing length of about 1.5–7 mm. On the head, they bear a vestiture of hair-like scales, which, in most cases, are more or less yellow, but sometimes may be dark brown or even black. The antennae are significantly longer in males, reaching 2/3–7/8 of the forewing length, whereas in females their length is only 1/2–2/3 of the forewing length. The forewings show a pattern of golden and, usually, also purple to violet markings, which are often very species-specific. The hindwings are devoid of any markings and more or less bronzy golden with the apex tinged purple.
The colouration of the wings is solely due to the physical properties of the wing scales (which are of the "fused" type and on the upper surface, as in other lower grade Lepidoptera). Wing pattern is dominated by a combination of metallic golden, silvery and purplish elements. The basic marking scheme on the forewing seems to be a purplish ground colour with three transverse golden fasciae. This basic scheme is modified in many ways, such as by additional spots and fasciae, or by shifting the purplish ground colour to a golden one and the colour of the fasciae varying to whitish or silvery. Although of great importance for identification, forewing markings do vary to a significant degree. This variation seems to be not only genetically determined, but may be influenced by local habitat conditions, as discussed below (see biology), and on a geographic basis according to metapopulation structuring (Kozlov 1995). We include several instances here of local, geographically distinct colour morphs (see e.g. Micropterix paykullella (Fabricius, 1794), Micropterix aruncella (Scopoli, 1763)).

Plate of imagines

Distribution:

The genus Micropterix Hübner, 1825 is distributed in the temperate and subtropical zones of Eurasia, as well as of Northern Africa (Kristensen 1984a). Up to now, 83 species are known (72 have been described), taking into account probable synonymy, of which 49 occur in Europe, 16 in Asia (very few of which reach the eastern Palaearctic), and about 17 in northern Africa. This makes Micropterix by far the most species rich genus of Micropterigidae, a family numbering about 132 described and about 93 undescribed species until the end of 2006 (Kristensen 1998; Hashimoto 2006; Gibbs in litt.). Most of the described species occur in the Mediterranean region, and several undescribed species are to be expected in the mountains of Asia.

Biology:

Tall herb vegetation at the edge of a wood, mixed with Ranunculs ssp., is a typical biotop for Micropterix calthella Linnaeus, 1761: Austria, Salzburg, Osterhorn group, St. Gilgen, near Fürberg, 2004.06.06 Blossoming shrubs of Pinus mugo on alpine meadows are frequently visited by Micropterix ssp.. On this bush in central Italy, Micropterix vulturensis Heath, 1981 and Micropterix aruncella (Scopoli, 1763) have been found: Italy, Abruzzo, Montagna della Maiella, la Maieletta, 1930 m, 2005.07.05 Evergreen and deciduous shrubs on a rocky slope along the roadside provide enough humidity for larval development even in hot mediterranean summers. At this locality, Micropterix myrtetella Zeller, 1850, Micropterix amsella Heath, 1975 and Micropterix facetella Zeller, 1851 have been found syntopically: Montenegro, Herceg-Novi, near Igalo, 2003.05.02 Some species, like Micropterix aureatella Scopoli, 1763 prefer acid soils like the edges of woods mixed with Vaccinium ssp. on high moorland: Salzburg, Osterhorn group, Blinklingmoos, 2004.05.30
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Micropterix aureoviridella (Höfner, 1898) feeding on pollen of blossoming Pinus mugo Turra: Austria, Vorarlberg, Rätikon, Lünersee, Douglashütte Umgebung, 2000 m, 2004.07.30 Specimen of Micropterix schaefferi Heath, 1975: Austria, Salzburg, Osterhorngruppe, Fuschl am See, Kleiner Kapelle, 2005.05.01 Mating, here of Micropterix calthella, takes place in full sunshine and often lasts only a few seconds: Austria, Salzburg, Flachgau, Köstendorf, Tannberg, from the summit to the Lassbergweg, 2005.05.15 Three different species (Micropterix aureoviridella (Höfner, 1898), Micropterix aureatella (Scopoli, 1763) and Micropterix aruncella (Scopoli, 1763)) are feeding on a single blossom of Rosa pendulina L.: Austria, Vorarlberg, Brandnertal, Böser Tritt, 1700 m, 2004.07.30
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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The adult moths feed on the pollen of many different plants (detailed below), and they cluster gregariously on flowers, especially on easily accessible blossoms, rather than searching for pollen grains on leaves as for example some syrphid flies. It has been demonstrated that in some cases the pollination is successful (Schwartz-Tzachor et al., 2004): e.g. in Israel, Micropterix berytella de Joannis, 1886 and Micropterix elegans Stainton, 1867 are, besides species of thrips, bees and flies, the most important pollinators of Cyclamen persicum Miller. For Micropterix, blossoms are also mating sites (Kozlov & Zvereva 2006). We have observed that copulation often lasts only a few seconds. No Micropterix are known to feed on fern spores as do some other micropterigid lineages in North America (Tuskes & Smith 1984) and in the Southern Hemisphere (e.g. "Sabatinca" porphyrodes; Gibbs, pers. comm.), but pollen is also known as a food source for New Caledonian Sabatinca sensu stricto (Thien et al. 1985) and for some Australian micropterigids (Common 1990: 130).
The biotope preferences of most species have been insufficiently studied so far, but a certain constancy of soil humidity seems to be necessary for the development of the larvae, which, apparently, are usually detritus-living or subterranean. Therefore, the genus inhabits biotopes with higher humidity like woods and scrubland, but also moors and moist meadows, especially places where the soil is moist, whereas only few species are able to live in dryer regions. Furthermore, some correlation between the colouration of the forewing and the biotope seems to exist. Species inhabiting wood- and bushland, i.e. places with less solar insolation, are primarily purplish to violet with golden markings, whereas species living in open habitats are more reddish golden to golden coloured without darker wing markings. Due to the higher reflection rate, such golden animals are less susceptible to overheating in direct sunlight. It is also suggested (Kozlov 1985) that visual cues are important in the absence of sternal V glands and lack of apparent pheromonal communication (despite suggestion to this effect by Pringruber (1944)) and so this could explain the bright shiny scale colours that could be the cues for conspecific aggregation irrespective of sex. The adults of Micropterix are active during daytime, although sometimes they may come to light. Depending on latitude and elevation, they swarm during a period of two or three weeks in a single generation any time from late January (southern Mediterranean area, e.g. Israel) to August (highest sites in the Alps). The actual flight period only lasts a few weeks in any locality, but the individual lifespan is poorly known. According to an experiment to prove the pollination of Cyclamen persicum Miller in Israel, M. elegans and M. berytella were kept in captivity for four or five days before they died (Schwartz-Tzachor, pers. comm.).
Best collection sites are boundaries of shrub vegetation and woodland, where the adults gather on flowering vegetation often very locally, but often also in great abundance. The specimens fly only short distances, but can frequently be found crawling around pollinating many different blossoms. Some species prefer herbaceous plants, others shrubs or trees. In the southern latitude or lower elevation areas Micropterix were more usually found in shaded areas than areas exposed to full sunshine; in more northern latitudes, they often occur in open sunny areas. At a given locality, adults aggregate usually on a limited range or even only a single plant species. At higher elevations some species can often be found around elfin woodland, feeding on the pollen of Pinus mugo Turra. Ecologically more specialized species inhabit marshes, dwarf vegetation, open grassland or alpine meadows. In the Mediterranean, specimens often rest on the underside of leaves or in shady places during the hottest hours of the day, being active mainly in the morning and in the evening. In woodland, specimens may be active throughout daytime.
The adults are attracted to flowers of the following gymnosperm and angiosperm (monocot and dicot) plant families and genera or species (Adler et al. 1994; Kozlov 2006; Pankhurst 1999; Schwartz-Tzachor 2004; Zeller-Lukashort, Kurz & Kurz 2006; Zeller-Lukashort et al. 2007; Helmut Deutsch, Markus Fluri, Peter Huemer, Utsugi Jinbo, all pers. comm.): Pinaceae (Pinus mugo Turra), Ranunculaceae (Caltha palustris L., Actaea spicata L., Ranunculus spp.), Caryophyllaceae (Lychnis flos-cuculi L., Stellaria holostea L.), Fagaceae (Fagus sylvatica L. (pollen on leaves, not flowers), Quercus spp.), Urticaceae (Urtica dioica L.), Brassicaceae (Cardamine pratensis L.), Sapindaceae (Acer pseudoplatanus L.), Rosaceae (Aruncus dioicus (Walter) Fernald, Crataegus sp., Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim., Rosa pendulina L., Rosa canina L. agg), Fabaceae (Spartium junceum L., Vicia sp.), Euphorbiaceae (Mercurialis perennis L.), Apiaceae (Heracleum sp.), Cistaceae (Helianthemum sp., Cistus sp.), Ericaceae (Rhododendron ferrugineum L., Vaccinium sp.), Pyrolaceae (Pyrola sp.), Primulaceae (Cyclamen persicum Mill.), Rubiaceae (Galium sp.), Scrophulariaceae (Veronica chamaedrys L.), Plantaginaceae (Plantago media L.), Oleaceae (Fraxinus ornus L., Olea europaea L., Syringa vulgaris L.), Caprifoliaceae (Sambucus nigra L., Lonicera xylosteum L.), Liliaceae (Paris quadrifolia L.), Orchidaceae (Dactylorhiza romana (Sebast & Mauri) Soó), Cyperaceae (Carex spp.) and Poaceae.

Stages in development:

 
Larva of Micropterix calthella, hatching from the egg Larva of Micropterix calthella (final instar) Pupa of Micropterix calthella in its cocoon  
Picture from: © Lorenz 1961, modified
Detailed view
Picture from: © Lorenz 1961, modified
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Picture from: © Lorenz 1961, modified
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Morphology of preimaginal stages (Heath 1983; Hashimoto 2006).

Egg. The eggs are oval, about 0.38 × 0.24 mm to about 0.53 × 0.43 mm (Heath 1962), translucent white with rod like structures of variable length. The eggs are deposited between the vegetation on the soil.

Larva. The body is elongate or barrel-shaped, whitish grey to dark grey, body length 2.5–4.5 mm; the head is almost twice as long as broad; the antennae are well developed, 3-segmented and bear a seta on their ends; they are almost as long as the width of the head; head and prothorax can be retracted into meso- and metathorax; the thoracic legs have only three free segments; the abdominal legs consist of a pair of conical appendages, bearing claws similar to the thoracic legs; the anal sucker is trilobed; each segment bears four longitudinal ridges with eight rows of paired, scale-like setae. The larvae have been assumed to feed on small pieces of rotten leaves or perhaps fungal hyphae although observations such as collections of larvae from tussocks of Dactylis glomerata (Poaceae) have been tenuous (Scoble 1995: 194), but M. calthella and M. aruncella have been recorded to eat Stellaria spp. (Caryophyllaceae) or other angiosperm tissue in captivity although they refused mosses or liverworts (Carter & Dugdale 1982). They have been found in the soil at a depth of 10 cm in stony woodland soil (Heath 1983) and those of M. aureatella have been found in a range of leaf litter where they could feed on fungal mycorrhizae (Carter & Dugdale 1982). There would appear to be only three instars (Heath 1983).

Pupa. The body length is about 2.5mm. The mandibles usually are conspicuous and functional (Mosher 1916). The head and thorax bear long bifurcate setae. The first seven abdominal segments are movable and the appendages are not fused to the body (Scoble 1995). The pupa rests within a tough silken cocoon. There is a nice drawing of the pupa of M. calthella in Lorenz (1961).

Micropterix is one of two genera of Micropterigidae (Gibbs, unpublished) with a larva that typically lives in the leaf litter zone where it may even feed on fungal hyphae as well as a probably wide range of plant material that includes living angiosperm leaf tissue and are the only micropterigids known to do so (Lorenz 1961; Carter & Dugdale 1982). Despite the diversity of species in Europe, it is remarkable that almost nothing still is known about the early stage life history, and apart from descriptions of eggs laid by females, there is knowledge only about the larva and pupa of M. aruncella and M. calthella (and larva of M. aureatella).

Anatomy:

Scheme of the male pregenital abdomen of Micropterix aureoviridella (Höfner, 1898) Scheme of the male genitalia Scheme of the female pregenital abdomen of Micropterix aureoviridella (Höfner, 1898) Scheme of the female genitalia
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
 
M. mansuetella, -genitalia, preparation no. 322, M.Kurz: "Styria; Selzthal; Moor; 18.5.1947; J.Klimesch", coll. Zoologische Sammlung des Bayerischen Staates, Munich M. aureatella, -Genitalia, prep.-no. 301, M.Kurz: "F. 1/6 1905; Lauterberg; Harz", coll. Oberösterreichische Landessammlung, Linz M. tunbergella, -genitalia, prep.-no. 273, M.Kurz: "Herndl; 20.5.1896; Hauder", coll. Oberösterreichische Landessammlung, Linz  
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
 

The exoskeletal and internal adult morphology of the species Micropterix calthella (Linnaeus, 1761) has been more or less intensively studied and readers are referred here to a few principal works. Very little is known of the detailed morphology of other species in the genus. For characteristics in wing venation, see for example Hashimoto (2006). Internal thoracic musculature of Micropterix aureatella shikotanica Kozlov, 1988 was treated by Kozlov (1986), whilst Kristensen (1984b) treated in detail the abdominal musculature and chordotonal organs of M. calthella, whose head musculature is described by Hannemann (1956). Kristensen (1984c) also treated the respiratory system of M. calthella. Sensillae of antennae and palps were described by Le Cerf (1926). Mouthpart sensillal ultrastructure of M. calthella was described in more detail by Chauvin & Faucheux (1981).

Pregenital abdomen. The pregenital abdomen consists of eight well developed segments. In both genders, the sclerites of segments I and II are heavily modified in shape, but the intraspecific variation of these characters is too great to be used for species-identifications. Also not useable for that purpose are all other segments including segment VIII, although sternites III – VI, as well as tergites VI – VIII often bear heavily sclerotized cross-ridges, or, seldom, a reticulate structure. In males, sternite VIII is always reduced to two tiny sclerotized platelets.

genitalia. Segments IX and X form the core of the genitalia, which are not retractable into the abdomen. In a few species like Micropterix mansuetella Zeller, 1844, the two complexes consisting of vinculum and valvae on the one hand and uncus, tegumen and two pairs of accessory claspers on the other hand, are clearly separated from each other ("mansuetella-type"), like in many members of the "Sabatincoid"-lineages (e.g Philpott 1924b, Issiki 1953). In most species however, the two parts are fused. Besides uncus and valvae, which are common in most other Lepidoptera, two additional clasping structures can be developed on the posterior margin of the tegumen. In Micropterix aureatella (Scopoli, 1763) and its relatives, both clasping structures are developed and bear normal, hair-like (hereafter "unmodified") or bristle-like/stout (hereafter "spinoid") setae ("aureatella-type"), the upper pair being developed prominently and the lower pair (called accessory claspers) being more or less atrophied already in Micropterix aruncella (Scopoli, 1763). In most other species of Micropterix (the "tunbergella-type", the upper pair is reduced or completely obsolete, whereas the accessory claspers are well developed. The accessory claspers normally bear up to 3 groups of thickened setae which are on the inner surface. Often these setae are highly modified into T- or Y-shapes. The valvae also bear spinoid setae, but these are not modified. The phallus, described in detail by Hannemann 1957, is somewhat enlarged at its base and shows a delicate inner structure at the posterior end. Nevertheless, these structures are not informative at species level.

genitalia. Segments IX and X are normally retracted into the abdomen in order to form a short ovipositor. Tergite IX is obsolete with the exception of M. mansuetella, where a minute fragment is left. In all other cases so far investigated only a group of setae is left instead of the tergite. Sternite IX is also reduced and modified in shape in females and, despite a reasonable intraspecific variability, often of shape informative at species-level (for example this more or less strongly sclerotized plate may show concavities at its proximal margin, or be divided into two platelets). Two lateral setose sclerites constituting the discrete segment X of Micropterigidae, form the terminal papillae, and form more or less an evenly wide ring ("band-like"). In some cases, they also can contribute to species identification. The diagnostic features of segments IX and X are discussed in the species descriptions. The internal parts of the female genitalia are not sclerotized at all. Therefore most structures are of no value for recognisizing species. Only the receptaculum seminis is distinctly cross-striated and in many cases its shape and length can contribute to species identification.

Diagnosis:

Micropterix calthella (Linnaeus, 1761) : Tuscany, province of Pisa, near Laura, Lorenzana, 1995.05.07, coll. Michael Kurz Micropterix renatae Kurz, Kurz & Zeller, 1997, Allotype : Italy, Tuscany, Alpi Apuane, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, 1993.05.14, coll. Michael Kurz Micropterix schaefferi Heath, 1975 : Austria, Salzburg, Hohe Tauern, Stubachtal, Enzingerboden, 1500 m, 1994.05.13, coll. Michael Kurz Micropardalis doroxena (Meyrick, 1888) , HOLOTYPE: New Zealand, Auckland, Waitakere Range, leg. Meyrick; coll. BMNH
Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: © Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd, CD disk L01; image number 1526011
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Sabatinca aemula Philpott, 1924 , HOLOTYPE: New Zealand, Cobb Valley, December, leg. Philpott; coll. New Zealand Arthropod Collection, Landcare Research (formerly DSIR), Auckland, New Zealand "Sabatinca" ianthina Philpott, 1921 , HOLOTYPE: New Zealand, Nelson, Dun Mountain, 2000 ft., leg. Philpott; in coll. New Zealand Arthropod Collection, Landcare Research (formerly DSIR), Auckland, New Zealand Epimartyria auricrinella Walsingham, 1898 : USA, New Hampshire, White Mountains, 2 miles north of Pinkham notch, 1995.07.02, leg. Mey Wolfram & S. Weaver, coll. Christof Zeller "Micropterix" cornuella Lees, Rougerie, Zeller & Kristensen, 2010: India, Arunachal Pradesh, Tellu River, near camp above Plawton, 1935.03.24, leg. M. Steele; in coll. BMNH
Picture from: © Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd, CD disk L01; image number 1526001
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Picture from: © Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd, CD disk L01; image number 1526013
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Wing venation of Micropterix tunbergella (Fabricius, 1787) Forewing venation of Micropardalis doroxena (Meyrick, 1888) Forewing venation of Sabatinca chrysargyra (Meyrick, 1886) Forewing venation of Issikiomartyria nudata (Issiki, 1953)
Picture from: © Heath 1983, modified
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Picture from: Philpott 1923, modified
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Picture from: Philpott 1923, modified
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Picture from: © Issiki 1953, modified
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Micropterix montanella Zagulajev, 1983 genitalia, preparation no. 729 M. Kurz: "Suchumi; Suchumer Heerstr.[aße]; bei Lata, Kobori-Tal; 10.6.1974; leg. F.Eichler", coll. Michael Kurz Micropterix aglaella -Genitalia, prep.-no. 294 J.Heath, 6070 Mus.Vind.: "27.6.1960; Col de Brouis; Alp. marit. Gal. m.; Vartian leg.", coll. Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna Micropterix trifasciella Heath, 1965 -genitalia, prep.-no. 689, M. Kurz: "ITALIA - Piemonte; Gran Paradiso; Piamprato; 45° 33,137 N 7° 34,558 E; 14:00 - 15:00 h; 1550 m; 7.7.1996; leg. Hausenblas/Zeller", coll. Christof Zeller Micropardalis doroxena (Meyrick, 1888), scheme of genitalia
Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Philpott 1924, modified
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Sabatinca lucilia Clarke, 1920, scheme of genitalia Sabatinca incongruella Walker, 1863, scheme of genitalia Epimartyria auricrinella Walsingham, 1898, scheme of genitalia Neomicropteryx cornuta Issiki, 1953, scheme of genitalia
Picture from: Philpott 1924, modified
Detailed view
Picture from: Philpott 1924, modified
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Picture from: Philpott 1924, modified
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Picture from: © Issiki 1953, modified
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Micropterix mansuetella Zeller, 1844, -genitalia, preparation no. 281, M. Kurz: "10.V.1934; Nienburg; Oyler-Berg; Brem[en]; Jäckh", coll. Oberösterreichische Landessammlung, Linz Micropterix tunbergella (Fabricius, 1787), -genitalia, prep.-no. 280, M. Kurz: "F. 14/5 1905; Kalkthal; Kyffh[äuser] Geb[irge]", coll. Oberösterreichische Landessammlung, Linz Sabatinca incongruella Walker, 1863, scheme of genitalia Epimartyria pardella (Walsingham, 1880), scheme of genitalia
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: Philpott 1927, modified
Detailed view
Picture from: Philpott 1927, modified
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Micropterix anglica Jarzembowski, 1980, Holotype, forewing: Top image from Jarzembowski, 1980, page 264. Bottom image taken by J. Sohn, 2009. Micropterix gertraudae Kurz & Kurz, 2010, holotype: Russia, Kaliningrad, Palmnicken, in coll. Michael Kurz "Sabatinca" perveta (Cockerell, 1919), Image A from Ross and York, 2000. Image B from Cockerell, 1919, Fig. 1, page 194. Image C from Skalski, 1976. Auliepterix mirabilis Kozlov, 1989, drawing of holotype
Picture from: LepTree Team (creative commons)
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Picture from: Kurz Michael
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Picture from: LepTree Team (creative commons)
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Picture from: © Kozlov 1989, modified
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The genus Micropterix has at least three derived traits: (1) in the wing venation all Rs branches run to the costa; (2) the male tergum I has a special muscle set inserting on an anteromedial longitudinal costa; and (3) the male abdominal segment IX has specialized dorsomedian and dorsolateral processes (=accessory claspers, see Kristensen & Nielsen 1979). Also, more weakly (4) forewing R is unforked, but this trait occurs in other northern Hemisphere genera as well as two undescribed taxa from Madagascar and Australia (Kristensen in litt.); (5) the dorsal part of the female abdominal sternite IX ring is unsclerotized (Kristensen & Nielsen 1982: 514); (6) Micropterix has lost the basal trait attributed to the Amphiesmenoptera of sternal V glands, although this loss has also happened elsewhere among the Micropterigidae (Kristensen 1984: 128) and (7) apyrene type of sperm is absent (so far checked in just a single species, Kristensen 1998). Furthermore, (8) in the male genitalia, tergite IX and sternite IX are more or less fused to form a sclerotized ring in most species, and (9) valves are distinctly elongated.
A number of features are plesiomorphies widespread in other homoneurous moths: head rough scaled, densely covered; ocelli prominent (as in all extant micropterigid genera); maxillary palpi long, with 5 segments, folded (as e.g. in Eriocraniids). Other characters are more or less characteristic of Micropterigidae: full complement of sulci present on head; lacinia present, cardo irregular, longish; labial palpi shortened (2-segmented in Micropterix as in most micropterigids), with a sensory concavity (Von Rath’s organ) on the basal segment; antennal sensillae (including branched "ascoid" basiconic type as also in Opostegidae) on all segments except the two basalmost ones and the distalmost one; mandibles present and fully functional in both pupa and adult; fore tibia with epiphysis; spur formula 0-0-4 as in other micropterigids (absence of mesotibial spurs shared uniquely with Heterobathmiidae); forewing with jugum, hindwing with a row of non-coupling subcostal frenulum bristles. R1 is unbranched in forewing as in "Micropterix" anglica, "Sabatinca" porphyrodes, and some E. Asian micropterigids (Hashimoto 2006) and the abdominal sternal V glands are absent, inferred lost, as occasional in a few tropical taxa such as Hypomartyria (Kristensen 1984b).
Several anatomical details, presenting valuable characters in some other lepidopterous families, like wing venation or number and size of spurs on the legs, are not useful for species identification in the genus Micropterix. Male genitalia are very characteristic in this genus and always present sufficient details for a reliable specific identification. Female genitalia, although less useful, sometimes yield useful exoskeletal characters on segments IX and X, and to some extent from the shape and length of the receptaculum seminis. Nevertheless, in some cases, the geographical distribution has also to be considered, since many similar species are allopatric or endemic to a relatively small area.

Phylogeny: The genus Micropterix has been suggested to represent the sister group of all other members of the basalmost group of extant Lepidoptera (e.g. Kristensen 1984a; Kristensen & Nielsen 1979), the Zeugloptera [= Micropterigidae Herrich-Schäffer, 1855] notably on the basis of its complete lack of a hindwing vein R and retention of minute remnants of the eighth abdominal sternite in males (Kristensen 1998: 43; Hashimoto 2006: 58). However, the support for this placement was soon questioned (Kristensen & Nielsen 1982) and is now definitely known to be spurious (Skalski 1995; Davis et al., unpubl.), as is also strongly indicated by preliminary analyses of 16SrRNA molecular data (Kobayashi et al. 2002; Gibbs et al. 2004; Hashimoto 2006). The phylogenetic position of this genus within the family Micropterigidae is still quite unclear, but while it is subordinate within the hierarchy of extant taxa, it is at least clearly external to the group comprising the other northern Hemisphere members. There is little doubt also that all the taxa currently placed within Micropterix constitute a natural group (excluding for now fossil taxa, notably Micropterix anglica Jarzembowski, 1980, whose fragmentary forewing venation but not probable palaeoenvironment is consistent with extant members of this genus, or any Baltic amber material that require reassessment). Very interesting are two recently discovered species from the southern slopes of the Himalayan mountains. Although we know only females so far, they closely resemble Micropterix in many respects, but differ mainly in the structure of the female genitalia, bearing unique appendages on abdominal sternite IX. This group is undoubtedly the most closely allied relative of Micropterix, although having probably evolved independently for geographic reasons since at least the Miocene period (Kurz & Kurz 2010b).
Up to now no consensus hypothesis has emerged as to the phylogenetic relationship of species within the genus Micropterix. Several morphological characters have been identified, which are assumed to be autapomorphies of recognized species groups (unpublished results). This has led to an ordered arrangement of species, although for the time being this arrangement must be regarded as provisional and partly phenetic. Further studies, including DNA investigations will hopefully improve the presented picture.
As mentioned above, Micropterix is probably only of subordinate rank within the family. We do not know of any fossils, that undoubtedly belong to the genus on the basis of recognized apomorphies. Nevertheless, on the basis of overall similarity, presently three fossil species are placed in Micropterix: Besides the already mentioned M. anglica, these are Micropterix immensipalpa (Kusnezov, 1941) and Micropterix gertraudae Kurz M.A. & M.E. Kurz, 2010. Both have been described from Baltic amber (Lutetian period of the Eocene) with an assumed age of 40.4 - 48.6 Ma, but only M. gertraudae belongs to Micropterigidae with certainty.

Worth knowing:

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Publication data:

history:
Kurz Michael: 2008.04.15
Kurz Michael: 2008.04.17
Kurz Michael: 2009.03.20
Kurz Michael: 2010.01.09
Kurz Michael: 2010.01.19
Kurz Michael: 2010.03.05
Kurz Michael: 2010.06.21
Kurz Michael: 2010.06.22
Kurz Michael: 2010.06.25
Kurz Michael: 2010.06.30
Kurz Marion: 2010.10.19
Kurz Michael: 2012.07.04
Kurz Michael: 2012.10.18
Kurz Michael: 2012.11.11
not reviewed

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