Currently viewing the category: "Microlepidoptera"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: microlep?
Location: Midland, MI
July 17, 2014 6:47 am
Hi bug man,
I’m stumped! I have a microlep that I am struggling to ID. A homeowner recently dropped this moth off as one captured from her yard. She indicated this spring much of their ground cover and other assorted plants were being eaten by caterpillars, and suspects this moth as the adult.
This is not a critter I am familiar with. I also have to admit that these tiny moths are my least favorite thing to ID! Is this in the family prodoxidae?
I am also curious as to what to tell this lady… “this is a small moth. it’s a species I am not familiar with as there are thousands of tiny moths in Michigan that are no fun to key out. This species isn’t one that we see as a common insect pest, and chances are it is probably not polyphagous– eating so many different kinds of plants in your yard. It’s hard to help you ID caterpillars from months ago without seeing them nor knowing what KIND of plants they were eating.”
For fun and unrelated, I am sharing a photo of hatching cecropia eggs that I took yesterday :)
Signature: Elly

Unknown Microlepidoptera

Unknown Microlepidoptera

Dear Elly,
We agree with you fully that identifying Microlepidoptera is not easy, and we might spend hours on this and still be unsuccessful.  Your letter did not indicate why you are the point person for this identification, so we can only surmise that your work for a nursery, an extermination company or perhaps a museum.  We are posting your images and we hope that one day there might be an answer.  We suspect this moth is not related to the caterpillars that are feeding on the woman’s plants.  The hatching Cecropia Caterpillar will get its own posting.

Unknown Microlepidoptera

Unknown Microlepidoptera

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Some kind of butterfly?
Location: Near Saskatoon, SK, Canada
July 20, 2013 9:00 am
I stopped to take a photo of some small purple flowers, and this tiny insect just happened to be hanging out on one. It kind of looks like a butterfly, but the wing are rather unusual to me. Can you identify this bug for me?
This photo was taken this summer (mid July), in an old pasture that has gone partially back to native grasses.
Signature: Dawn

Heliodinid, we Believe

Heliodinid, we believe

Dear Dawn,
Microlepidopterans, tiny moths, can be very difficult to identify, but since this is such a distinctive looking diurnal moth, we decided to give it a try.  First we discovered Linnaeus’s Spangle-Wing on BugGuide, but your individual has more wing markings than that species.  Then we found a very close match with
Embola ionis on the Moth Photographers Group, and we thought we had your moth, but upon searching the family Heliodinidae on BugGuide, we realized there were other general with other similar looking species.  BugGuide indicates the family can be identified because:  “Members of the family Heliodinidae are metallic-colored, mostly diurnal moths.”  Our top favorites for possible species include Neoheliodines cliffordi, which is pictured on BugGuide as well as on the Moth Photographers Group and Embola ionis, which is also pictured on BugGuide.  Both of those species have a more northern range, and though neither is reported from Saskatchewan on BugGuide, both are reported from Minnesota.   

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What the heck?
Location: South Dakota kitchen floor
May 18, 2011 8:34 am
I found this on the floor. At first I thought it was something off a sunflower but found this worm looking thing inside.
Signature: Please help

Unknown Thing

We are baffled as to how to even categorize this thing.  There are not enough visible characteristics except to say that it resembles a grub or maggot, but being in that casing is quite curious.  Furthermore, why are there two of them?  The casing looks fibrous and hemplike, or possibly like fur.  Do you perhaps have a house pet with similar looking hair?  We are going to feature your photo in the hopes that our readership is able to provide some information.

Karl solves the Mystery
Mysterious Encased Grublike Thing – May 18, 2011
Hi Daniel and Please help:
Your mysterious objects look to me like the mature, presumably overwintered, seedheads of burdock (Arctium sp.). If so, the little grubs are likely the larvae of the Burdock Seedhead Moth (Metzneria lappella), a variety of microlepidoptera in the family Gelechiidae. The larvae feed on the developing seedheads, then overwinter as larvae and pupate within the seedhead in the spring. Burdock is very common here in southern Manitoba and in the fall the seedheads are typically very heavily infested with these little guys. Perhaps they hitched a ride into your home on someone’s clothing, or maybe a dog. Burdocks were originally Eurasian species but they have been naturalized in North America for a very long time. I suspect the same goes for the Burdock Seedhead Moth. Regards.  Karl

Wow Karl,  that was an impressive identification.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Black and White Striped Unidentified insect
Location: Montana
December 31, 2010 12:39 am
Hello. I have a random insect that appeared in my home a couple days ago. I live in Bozeman, MT and I had a Fraser fir in my house and I also have a couple herbs growing in my kitchen (basil, oregano, thyme). My camera wouldn’t focus any closer but zoomed in the picture is fairly good. Thank you very much.
Signature: Jenny

Unknown Small Moth

Hi Jenny,
This is a moth, and since it is small, it is somewhat unscientifically categorized as a Microlepidoptera.  We tried scanning the plates on the Moth Photographers Group without any success.  It looks similar to a Clothes Moth in the genus
Eudarcia that is pictured on BugGuide, be we are confident that is not the correct classification for your specimen.  We do believe your moth is neither a Clothes Moth nor a Pantry Moth, and it may have been transported on the Christmas tree.  You did not indicate if this was an isolated specimen or part of an infestation.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck with a species identification.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Friend or foe?
April 24, 2010
We have a ‘plague’ of these in our vegetable garden which backs on to woodland. They fly when disturbed but seem to prefer to be resting. Really only need to know if they are friend or foe. Their wings shimmer slightly as if covered in fine gold leaf.
Gill Kendrick
Central England


Hi Gill,
At first we thought that this might be a Caddisfly.  According to BugGuide, which only covers North American species, “Adults resemble moths, but wings are hairy instead of scaly.
”  We decided to search the UK Moths website though, and we believe we identified your insect as a tiny moth, known as Microlepidoptera, and possibly the species Micropteris calthella which is described on UK Moths as “Wingspan 7-10 mm.  Another tiny species, with a wingspan of around 8 to 10mm, this moth has metallic bronzy forewings, with purplish tinges in places. Like other Micropterix species, it has a tuft of hairs on the head.  It occurs throughout most of Britain, and can be found flying in the daytime in May and June, where it feeds on the pollen of various plants.”  An even closer match might be Eriocrania semipurpurella, which UK Moths describes as “Wingspan 10-16 mm.  The commonest and most widespread of the Eriocrania species that feed on birch, occurring throughout most of Britain.  The adults are difficult to tell apart from E. sangii without reference to the genitalia structure, but the larvae are quite different, semipurpurella being white or yellowish, sangii being quite dark grey.   The larva itself mines in a birch (Betula) leaf, forming a large blotch, from March to May. The adults fly in March and April, especially in sunshine.”  We don’t believe we have the skill to definitively identify this Microlepidoptera, but you might have better luck trying to sort through the 2012 Moth species on the site UKMoths.  Friend or Foe is relative.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Identification Request
April 6, 2010
I sent my question on the site and not with an e-mail.
If you can help me to identify this insect I send you the photo by this e-mail.
This insect was photographied in Costa Rica in the Monteverde reserve, in the cloud forest in March 2010.
I am not a specialist of insects but I suppose it is an heteropter, family of pentatomidae. It is a jewel!!!
Thank you for your help.
Best regards,

Unknown Insect

Dear MAB,
This is a mystery, but we would rule out a member of the family Pentatomidae.  This may be a Planthopper in the superfamily Fulgoroidea.  We wish the view of the head was clearer as that could assist in the identification.  We also wouldn’t rule out a Moth, bug again, the details of the head would help.  Perhaps one of our readers who has traveled to Costa Rica, like Karl, may recognize this mystery.

Unfortunately I didn’t see anything quite like this. Your hunch was right Daniel, this is a moth. It belongs to the Tortricidae (Tortrix Moths or Leaf-rollers), a very large family usually included in the Micropepidoptera.  Most Tortrix moths are rather small and non-descript; this one is obviously a beautiful exception. I found an illustration and description of this moth in the “Biologia Centrali-Americana” by Walsingham (1905-1915) under the name Idolatteria pyrops. That still appears to be an accepted name but I could find no more recent information about it. To confuse the issue, I did find a wonderful photo under the name Pseudodatteria leopardina on the “Animals and Earth” site. I suspect this species has undergone some taxonomic revision since it was first described. Coincidentally, the photo is credited to that old friend of WTB?, Piotr Naskrecki, and it is tagged as a rare diurnal moth from Costa Rica. Perhaps Piotr can provide some additional information. Regards.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you very much for your prompt and documented answer. Thanks to Karl too!!
I did not suppose it was a moth!!
… Best regards,

Piotr Naskrecki verifies identification
Hi Daniel,
This moth is almost certainly Pseudatteria leopardina, a diurnal tortricid
from high elevation Central America

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination