Friday, December 11, 2015

Eggplant Leafroller

Insect in a box - REK
Barb spotted this critter clinging to the ceiling above her as she prepared a salad.  As a naturalist she called me to bring a "bug box" rather than a swatter.  We use clear plastic Gerber baby food containers for insect collection, begging them off younger friends so we don't have to start another family on our own.

This tiny winged creature's body measured 10mm.  It was quite lively and since it wouldn't be surviving the winter weather anyway, it went into the freezer for euthanasia, nestled in the ice tray along with future suppers.  Did I mention that Barb is a very tolerant naturalist?

Ventral view - Click to enlarge  REK

You might think that something this strange would be easy to identify but I practically wore out my Peterson's field guide without coming close.  Googling "strange wings moths" and other topics failed to find a picture and my personal resources were traveling abroad.  Finally I sent it to Bugguide and got a prompt response from A. Henderson.  This is an eggplant leafroller, Lineodes integra.

Bugguide lists larval food plants in the "tomato family (Solanaceae), such as eggplant (Solanum melongena), ground-cherry (Physalis spp.), pepper (Capsicum spp.), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), and garden tomato (Solanum lycopersicon)."  Our moth didn't have far to fly, just a few feet from our dying cherry tomato and jalapeno pepper plants that had nurtured it this fall.

Margarethe Brummermann PhD

Lineodes integra - Wikipedia
Many of the small moths are named for their food plants where we are more likely to see their larva and its damage.  The moth has a short lifespan and even when it comes to light it is easy to miss with its narrow wings spanning 3/4 inch.  It has a distinctive habit of resting with its abdomen curved up above its thorax but our moth didn't cooperate.

I could only make out the beautiful wing pattern with magnification and a bright light.  Under the microscope you can see the tibial ruffles on its long, thin legs.  You can see more of this moth's life cycle on this Arizonabeetlesbugsbirdsandmore link.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty sure this moth is the model for an up-sized version of an organic Star Wars fighter jet. Maybe Mad Max Thunder Dome? Nature is the best inspiration for invention!