Two genera are currently recognized, Acanthopteroctetes with 4 species in western North America and 1 species to be described from montane Peru, and the monotypic Catapterix from Crimea. Another undescribed member of this family is also known to occur in China.
Nearctic, Palearctic, Oriental, Ethiopian, Neotropical
Larval head description:
Head slightly depressed, prognathous, partially retracted into prothorax. Stemmata 6 in number, arranged in a sharply angulate, almost rectangular line with 6th stemmatal lens reduced. Ecdysial lines close to adfrontal sutures, terminating well mesad of of antennae and converging caudally near prominent epicranial notch. Adfrontal sclerite well defined, narrow, not enclosing A1. Frontoclypeus triangular, longer than wide, converging slightly before epicranial notch and near ecdysial lines.
Body setae on verrucae:
Body setae on chalazae:
Body setae on scoli:
Larval body description:
Mature larva small; maximum length 5-6 mm. Body cylindrical, white except for brownish tergal and sternal prothoracic plates. Chaetotaxy reduced, with only lateral setae well developed. Spiracles round.
Larval thorax description:
Prothorax with brownish tergal and sternal plates. D setal group unisetose on T1, bisetose on T2-3. L group bisetose on T1, unisetose on T2-3. Legs present, relatively short and slender, widely separated, and with indistinct coxae. Paired ambulatory calli present on dorsum of T1-3 and at base of coxae of T1-3.
Pairs of thoracic legs:
Larval Prothoracic L-group setae:
Larval abdomen description:
Abdomen without pigmented areas or distinct pinnacula. D setal group bisetose on A1-7, unisetose on A8-9. SD group bisetose on A1-8 with SD2 minute and immediately dorsad to spiracle. L group bisetose on A1-8, unisetose on A9, with L1 directly caudad to spiracle. SV group trisetose on A1-7. Prolegs absent excopt for anal pair. Crochets completely absent. Paired dorsal and ventral eversible calli present on A1-7.
Pairs of abdominal legs:
Pairs of crochets per proleg:
Crochet arrangement description:
Anal comb on A10:
The pupa of Acanthopteroctetes unifascia is generally similar to that of Eriocrania in possessing a smooth, thin and flexible cuticle with all appendages free and probably capable of some movement. The vertex of Acanthopteroctetes is smooth and lacks the elongate spinose projection present in Eriocrania. The labrum is similar to that described for Eriocrania in being well setoff from the head, but more circular in shape, with 5 pairs of elongate (but shorter) setae. The mandibles of unifascia are likewise hypertrophied as in Eriocrania but are more slender with more acute apices.
Pupal tergal spines:
Spines as modified cremaster:
Adult Abdomen Morphology
Female genitalia description:
Corpus bursae relatively reduced in size, ductus bursae and vagina with thickened, folded walls. Common oviduct arising either ventral or lateral to bursa copulatrix and slightly posterior to spermathecal papilla. Spermatheca entirely membranous, without an internal thickening in ductus spermathecae; spermathecal papilla either strongly sclerotized or largely membranous. Vaginal sclerite absent. Colleterial gland arising from dorsal wall of vagina caudad of vestibulum. Posterior apophyses with tertiary, closely associated rodlike sclerites in 10th segment. Ninth segment entirely membranous except for spinose ridges.
Female pregenital sexual scales:
Female oviduct opening:
Female anterior apophyses originating:
originating from T8
Male pregenital sexual scales:
Male genitalia description:
Uncus superficially bifid, lateral margins revolute, serrulate, or spinose near apex. Socii absent. Caudal margin of vinculum relatively deeply concave or excavate; cephalic margin shallowly concave; lateral angles only slightly evident, not produced into elongate apophyses. Anellus with two separate areas of sclerotization surrounding sclerotized, dorsal transtilla and a thinner, less sclerotized juxta ventrally; transtilla in the general form of an inverted T with a prominent, elongate median process extending caudad almost to apex of uncus; apex of median process with an acute, uncinate apex curving dorsally; ventral subapical margin of medium process serrulate; base of transtilla abruptly expanded laterally toward, but separate from, bases of valvae. Juxta of various form, typically consisting of a thin elongate plate, slightly broader at the middle. Valvae slender, greatest width approximately one fourth the length, elongate with apices surpassing apex of uncus and relatively simple except for a narrow, membranous fringe along ventral margin. Aedeagus undivided, relatively stout, with a prominent and complex array of endophallic cornuti
Sternum 5 gland:
Adult abdomen description:
The second sternum is completed divided into a narrow anterior rim and much longer caudal sternite. Pleural area of 3rd segment either unmodified or with a bilateral pair of filamentous sensory appendages. Fourth and 5th sternites unmodified, without paired fenestrae or glandular tubercules. Eighth segment of female with a single row of elongate setae arising from caudal margin and projecting caudad; setal row encircling segment with setae more elongate dorsally than ventrally.
phallotheca and aedeagus (phallus)
Adult Thorax Morphology
Adult thorax description:
Metafurcasternum generally similar to that of Eriocraniidae except furcasternum broader and the anteriomedial furcal process is more separated from the relatively more elongate intercoxal lamellae in Acanthopteroctetes (Davis 1978).
Number of tibial spurs foreleg:
Number of tibial spurs midleg:
Number of tibial spurs hindleg:
Forelegs relatively long; foretibiae approximately 0.42-0.46 the length of hind tibiae; epiphysis absent.
Forewing length from base of forewing to the apex (mm):
from 4 to 6
Forewing with Sc simple, not divided; radius with 4 primary branches; Rs3 absent; R secondarily divided for most its length; pterostigma absent; Rs2+3 stalked with Rs4 for nearly two-thirds their length; Ml stalked to Rs2+4; anal veins widely separate to margin; 3A very short, closely associated with jugal fold. Hind wings with Sc and R simple; radius with 4 primary branches; Rs3 absent; Rs2 and 4 and Ml stalked as in forewings; lower half of distal cell open due to atropy of medial-cubital crossvein;
Forewing cell veins:
Forewing anal vein notation:
Forewing basal loop:
Number of Rs veins in forewing:
Number of M veins in forewing:
Forewing upper surface with microtrichia:
Hindwing anal vein notation:
1A + 2A
Number of anal veins reaching margin:
Hindwing cell vein:
Number of Rs veins in hindwing:
Number of M veins in hindwing:
jugate, spines (with reticulatum?)
Wing coupling description:
Hindwing jugal lobe moderately developed, except reduced in Acanthopteroctetes unifascia. The latter species also possesses a pair of elongate frenular bristles with rounded apices that arise from the base of the costal margin of the hindwing (Davis 1978).
Forewings very slender,width approximately 0.19-0.20 the length; scales typically long and hairlike; pterostigma absent.
Adult Head Morphology
Number of labial palp segments:
from 1 to 3
Labial palpus modification:
Labial palpi 1-3-segmented, short, approximately equal to or less than 1st segment of maxillary palpi in length; apex of distal segment relatively simple, without organs of von Rath and basiconic sensilla.
Number of maxillary palp segments:
Length of proboscis (mm):
Head vertex scaling:
Adult head description:
Head less extended above compound eyes than in Eriocraniidae; laterofacial sulci obsolete. Ocelli absent. Compound eyes relatively large; interocular index approximately 0.75—0.80; eyes situated more laterally. Mandibles vestigial, nearly absent. Apex of terminal (5th) segment of maxillary palpi relatively simple, without secondary lobes.
Sternum V gland absent. Labial palpi reduced in length. Wings very slender. Larva without ventral prolegs; anal prolegs present but without crochets.
Adult with apices of dorsal tentorial arms fused with head capsule. Epiphysis absent. Mesothoracic tibia with a single spur (paralled in Eriocraniidae). M1 stalked with Rs in both wings. Hindwing M-Cu crossvein vestigial, and with open discal cell. Male valvae with membranous bulge from inner surface. Second abdominal sternum with anterior rim separate from main plate
Life History and Behavior
Adults have been collected at light in western North America.
Life History: Immature Stages
The larva constructs a cocoon in debris beneath the host plant.
Larval food items include:
Life history larvae:
Only the larva of the North American Acanthopteroctetes unifascia Davis is known. The larva is a full depth blotch leafminer in the leaves of Ceanothus (Rhamnaceae) in southern California. The eggs are inserted into the upper (adaxial) epidermis of the leaf by the piercing oviscapt of the female. Larval feeding is extended, beginning in summer (July) and continuing into fall with the half-grown larva overwintering. The relatively large frass pellets are packed into the older portions of the mine. Feeding continues the following spring until maturity, at which time the larva exits through the lower epidermis and constructs o cocoon in debris beneath the host plant.
Life History: Adults
Acanthopteroctes unifascia, the only species whose biology has been observed, is univoltine with the larva overwintering and pupating in soil debris in the late spring.
Evolution and Systematics
Systematic and taxonomic history
The genus Acanthopteroctetes was originally described in the subfamily Eriocranianae [sic] by Braun (1921). Davis (1978) erected a new family for the genus, but retained the family together with Eriocraniidae in the superfamily Eriocranioidea. A new clade, Coelolepida, was proposed by Nielsen and Kristensen (1996) which included Acanthopteroctetidae and all non-eriocraniid Glossata. The Coelolepida is characterized primarily by the development of the more derived "hollow" wing scale type, with an internal lumen separating the dorsal and ventral surfaces as compared to the "solid" scale type without an internal lumen which exists primarily in Eriocraniidae and more basal families (Davis 1978, Kristensen 1998). Sinev and Zagulajev (1988) proposed Catapterix in a new family, Catapterigidae, but recognized its close affinities to Acanthopteroctetes. Catapterigidae was considered a synonym by Nye and Fletcher (1991)and this synonymy is currently recognized.
No fossil record known
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:13
Specimens with Barcodes:10
Species With Barcodes:4
Acanthoctesia or "archaic sun moths" is an infraorder of insects in the Lepidopteran order, containing a single superfamily Acanthopteroctetoidea and a single family Acanthopteroctetidae. They are currently considered the fifth group up on the comb of branching events in the extant lepidopteran phylogeny (Kristensen and Skalski, 1999: 10). They also represent the most basal lineage in the lepidopteran group Coelolepida (Wiegmann et al., 2002) (along with Lophocoronoidea and the massive group "Myoglossata") characterised in part by its scale morphology (Kristensen, 1999: 53-54). Moths in this superfamily are usually small (but one is 15 mm. in wingspan) and iridescent. Like other "homoneurous" Coelolepida and non-ditrysian Heteroneura, the ocelli are lost. There are variety of unique structural characteristics (see Kristensen, 1999: 53-54 for an overview). There are two described genera of these primitive moths. Catapterix was originally described within its own family (Sinev, 1988) but Acanthopteroctetes shares with it a number of specialised structural features including similar wing morphology (in A. unifascia) (Nielsen and Kristensen, 1996: 1255).
Four species of Acanthoctesia in the genus Acanthopteroctetes are very localised in Western North America (Davis, 1978). Another genus, Catapterix represented by a single species comes from single sites at "Mount Karadag" and "Krasnolesie" in the Crimean Peninsula of the Ukraine (Zagulajev and Sinev, 1988). A third taxon, undescribed, is known from the Andes in Peru (Kristensen, 1999: 54).
Acanthopteroctetes are leaf-miners on the shrub genus Ceanothus (Rhamnaceae) (Kristensen, 1999: 53-54). The mine is a blotch on the leaf, overwintering as a larva, with the pupa in a cocoon on the ground (Kristensen, 1999). The adult moths, diurnal, emerge in the spring. The biology of Catapterix is however unknown.
These primitive moths must be considered high conservation priorities on the grounds that the genera are both evolutionarily highly distinctive and have very narrow ranges (Nielsen and Kristensen, 1996). Catapterix crimaea, apparently unreported more or less since its description (Zagulajev and Sinev, 1988; Zagulajev, 1992) on this basis must be one of the top priorities in Europe for conservation surveys or monitoring.
- Davis, D. R. (1978). A revision of the North American moths of the superfamily Eriocranioidea with the proposal of a new family, Acanthopteroctetidae (Lepidoptera). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 251: 1-131.
- Kristensen, N.P. (1999). The homoneurous Glossata. Ch. 5, pp. 51–64 in Kristensen, N.P. (Ed.). Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies. Volume 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Handbuch der Zoologie. Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tierreiches / Handbook of Zoology. A Natural History of the phyla of the Animal Kingdom. Band / Volume IV Arthropoda: Insecta Teilband / Part 35: 491 pp. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York.
- Nielsen, E. S. and Kristensen, N. P. (1996). The Australian moth family Lophocoronidae and the basal phylogeny of the Lepidoptera Glossata. Invertebrate Taxonomy, 10: 1199-1302.Abstract
- Kristensen, N. P. and Skalski, A.W. (1999). Phylogeny and paleontology. Pages 7–25 in: Lepidoptera: Moths and Butterflies. 1. Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Handbook of Zoology Vol. IV, Part 35. N. P. Kristensen, ed. De Gruyter, Berlin and New York.
- Minet, J. (2002). Proposal of an infraordinal name for the Acanthopteroctetidae (Lepidoptera). Bulletin de la Société entomologique de France, 107 (3) 222. [Infraorder Acanthoctesia].
- Sinev, S.Y. (1988). Systematic position of the Catapterigidae (Lepidoptera) and the problem of the naturalness of the group Heteroneura. Entomologicheskoe Obozrenie, 67: 602-614. In Russian [see Entomological Review (1990) 69: 1-14 for a translation].
- Wiegmann, B.M., Regier, J.C. and Mitter, C. (2002). Combined molecular and morphological evidence on the phylogeny of the earliest lepidopteran lineages. Zoologica Scripta, 31 (1): 67-81. doi:10.1046/j.0300-3256.2001.00091.x
- Zagulajev, A.K.; Sinev S.Y. (1988). Catapterigidae fam. n. - a new family of lower Lepidoptera (Lepidoptera, Dacnonypha). Entomologicheskoe Obozrenie, 68: 35-43. In Russian [see Entomological Review (1989) 68: 35-43 for a translation].
- Zagulajev, A.K. (1992). New and little known Microlepidoptera (Lepidoptera: Incurvariidae, Tineidae, Psychidae, Alucitidae) of the fauna of the USSR. Entomologicheskoe Obozrenie, 71: 105-120. [In Russian].
- Firefly Encyclopedia of Insects and Spiders, edited by Christopher O'Toole, ISBN 1-55297-612-2, 2002
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