Hellinsia unicolor (Barnes and McDunnough, 1913),

Matthews, Deborah L., Miller, Jacqueline Y., Simon, Mark J. & Goss, Gary J., 2019, Additions to the plume moth fauna of The Bahamas (Lepidoptera: Pterophoridae) with description of four new species, Insecta Mundi 708 (708), pp. 1-35: 14

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Hellinsia unicolor (Barnes and McDunnough, 1913)


Hellinsia unicolor (Barnes and McDunnough, 1913) 

Fig. 18View Figures 18–24, 49View Figures 49–53

Diagnosis. Forewing ground color light buff to pale olive-buff; veins traced with drab scales, especially on lobes ( Fig. 18View Figures 18–24). Hindwing ground color similar to forewing or slightly darker. Distinguished from H. paleaceus  and H. chlorias  by the complete lack of spots at cleft base and vein terminals. Male genitalia with a short thorn-like saccular process of the left valve (Figured in Matthews et al. 2012). Female genitalia recognized by the convex, angled anterior margin of tergite VIII and short straight anterior apophyses ( Fig. 49View Figures 49–53).

Pinned material examined. BAHAMAS: Abaco: South Abaco, Schooner Bay , coppice trail, 26.167000°, −77.181167°, 1.vi.2016, high limestone ridge adjacent to coppice trail, adult resting on vegetation, DLM, JYM, MJS, GJG (1 ♂, slide DM 2116)  ; Schooner Bay Institute, 26.161333°, −77.187667°, 1.vi.2016, at MVL in morning, DLM, JYM, MJS, GJG (1 ♂)  ; Gilpin Point, S of Crossing Rocks, 1.5 mi. SE of Great Abaco Hwy. , 26.105899°, −77.18550°, 3.vi.2016, DLM, JYM, MJS, GJG, pinelands, (1 ♂, 1 ♀, DM 2096)  ; Cat Island: vic. Ocean Dream Resort , E of Smith Town, 24.323273°, −75.454536°, 23.vi.2014, DLM, JYM, MJS, GJG (1 ♂)  ; Mayaguana Island: Pirates Well, Baycaner Beach , 22.435833°, −73.102222°, 31.vii–1.viii.2014, MJS, GJG (1 ♂, slide DM 2095)  .

Life history. Larvae in Florida are stem borers in Eupatorium capillifolium (Lam.) Small  and E. compositifolium Walter.  The former occurs in The Bahamas along with eight other species of Eupatorium  L. ( Correll and Correll 1982).

Distribution. This species is known to occur in the USA from Florida west to Texas and north into North Carolina. The species status west of Texas is uncertain (see comments). In The Bahamas, it has been collected on South Abaco, Cat, Long, and Mayaguana islands.

Comments. This species was previously reported ( Matthews et al. 2012) from Long Island. While the morphology of the female genitalia falls within the range of variation seen in Florida H. unicolor  , males from The Bahamas are consistent in having a slightly more elongated saccular process of the left valve. This difference is not unusual when compared to variation seen for this species across the USA, yet suggests a distinct segregate restricted to the island populations. At this time, it is best to treat H. unicolor  , H. rigidus (McDunnogh)  , H. inconditus (Walsingham)  , H. caudelli (Dyar)  , and possibly others as a species complex until DNA sequencing and further morphological study tests the species-level status of Bahamas and other segregate populations.