Homaledra sabalella ( Chambers, 1880 )

Hayden, James E., 2021, Two new species of palm-leaf skeletonizers (Lepidoptera: Pterolonchidae: Homaledra Busck), Insecta Mundi 2021 (859), pp. 1-24 : 4-10

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Homaledra sabalella ( Chambers, 1880 )


Homaledra sabalella ( Chambers, 1880)

( Fig. 1, 2, 8 View Figures 1–10 , 11, 17, 22 View Figures 11–26 , 27–29 View Figures 27–33 , 34 View Figures 34–37 , 38, 41, 45 View Figures 38–47 , 50–52 View Figures 48–58 )

Laverna sabalella Chambers 1880: 185 .

Homaledra sabalella (Chambers) : Busck 1900: 238.

Diagnosis. Adult. In H. sabalella , the second segment of the labial palp is uniformly dark gray exteriorly, and the apical segment is about 1/2 to 3/5 the length of the second ( Fig. 8 View Figures 1–10 ). The antennae are shorter than the wings and lack a pecten. The wings are almost wholly beige, with black scales usually only in two spots at the end of the discal cell and along the anal fold near the margin ( Fig. 1, 2 View Figures 1–10 ). Fresh specimens have black scales along the termen. The hind wing lacks hair pencils. The forewing has M 1 strong and fully separate from Rs 2+3 ( Fig. 34 View Figures 34–37 ). CuA 1 and CuA 2 are both present in the forewing and the hind wing. The dorsal male abdomen of H. sabalella is not modified: all tergites are of even width, and scale tufts are absent ( Fig. 11 View Figures 11–26 ). In the male genitalia, the phallus has a broad ring of cornuti instead of a row ( Fig. 22 View Figures 11–26 ). The apex of the valva is more rounded ( Fig. 17 View Figures 11–26 ). In the female genitalia, the corpus bursae is pyriform, broadest anteriad ( Fig. 27 View Figures 27–33 ). The signum is located on the anterior apex of the corpus bursae, and its spines are of uniform size ( Fig. 28, 29 View Figures 27–33 ). Larva ( Fig. 38 View Figures 38–47 ). The SV group of A3–A6 is trisetose, without small extra setae ( Fig. 41 View Figures 38–47 ). Pupa ( Fig. 45 View Figures 38–47 ). The wings, antennae, and metathoracic legs are all extended to the middle of the 5 th abdominal segment, and the antennae and legs are not longer than wings; the antennae are tangent on the 3 rd segment.

Material examined. The lectotype of Homaledra sabalella in the USNM is hereby designated: ♀, label “No. 272 = 748P. Laverna n. sp. V.T. Chambers, Oct. 8/79” ( USNM). Paralectotypes are as follows: 1♀: “No. 272. Iss. Feb. 25/80 | 778 | Laverna sabalella Cham. Type”, abdomen in gelcap ; 11 (sex not observed): No. 272, (2) Iss. March 13/80, (1) Iss. March 24/80, (1) Iss. Feb. 21/80, (2) Iss. Feb. 18/80, (2) Iss. March 1/80, (2) Iss. Feb. 25/80; (1) Iss. Feb. 26/80, (1) Iss. Jan. 31/80, USNM slide 146,319.

Specimens are in the FSCA and MGCL except as noted. BAHAMAS: 1♀: S. Andros Is., W. of The Bluff, 24.106939, −77.557659, 29-III-2014, J. Miller, M. Simon, R. Rozycki, D. Matthews, MGCL #233653, MGCL slide 4456. USA: California: San Diego Co.: 2♂, 1♀: San Diego, 6477 Neiman Ranch Rd., 32°58′26″N, 117°10′31″W, 24-I-2001, R. Garrison, ex Phoenix canariensis , Homaledra sabalella (Chambers) ♂, Det. R.W. Garrison 2001 ( CDFA and FSCA); 1♂: Rancho Santa Fe, 25-I-2001, col: Jim Lawrence, ex: Canary Is. Palm, HOMALEDRA sabalella det: T.D. Eichlin, CDFA GENITALIA SLIDE #890 by S.A. Kinnnee; 1♀: same data, J.E. Hayden slide no. 6332 ( CDFA); 1♀: same data, not dissected ( FSCA); Georgia: Chatham Co.: 8♂, 1♀: Savanna, Bamboo Farms, 27-III-2003, Bromet and Ferris, on Rhapidophyllum hystrix , Butia capitata , Livistona nitida , and Thrinax sp. ; Florida: Alachua Co. : 10 larvae: Alachua, 29.8800, −82.4896, 9-I-2020, Butia capitata, S. Hart ; 3♂, 4♀: Gainesville, reared, 14-II-1947, 16-II-1947, 17-II-1947, 6-III-1947, 1-IV-1947, H.V. Weems Jr. ( FSCA); 1♀: Gainesville, 16-I-1971, D.H.H., Palmetto leaf, MGCL slide 358; 1♂: same data, MGCL slide 4450; 1♂: Gainesville, Malaise trap, 19-IV-1976, W.H. Pierce, MGCL slide 3321 (wings); 1♂: Gainesville, on Phoenix canariensis [no date], H.L. Dozier, MGCL slide 4454; 1 larva: Gainesville, UF Campus, 30-V-1972, Serenoa repens, T.M. Neal ; 10 larvae: Gainesville, 23-V-1978, Phoenix reclinata Jacq., C. Ort ; 2 larvae: Newberry, 29.5640, −82.6378, 19-X-2017, Sabal palmetto, J. Hayden, J. Awad ; Baker Co.: ~ 20 larvae: Glen St. Mary, 5-I-1960, Butia capitata, E.W. Holder Jr. ; ~ 50 larvae: same data except Sabal palmetto ; Bay Co.: 3 larvae: S. Fountain, 30.4359, −85.4219, 26-V-2019, Serenoa repens, P. Skelley, K. Schnepp ; Brevard Co.: 1 larva: Merritt Island, 3880 N. Courtenay Pkwy., 24-VII-2019, Phoenix reclinata, D. Cermak ; Broward Co.: 1♂, 2♀: FLREC, 5-IV-2002, Phoenix canariensis, D.H. Baquerizo, L 125, L126, L165; 4 larvae: Parkland, 8200 NW 82nd Terr., 5-III-2020, Phoenix sp. , S. Webb; Collier Co.: 1♂: Collier-Seminole St. Pk., 25-I-1986, Dow, MGCL slide 357; 4 larvae: Naples, 25-IV-1984, Washingtonia robusta, R. Buchholz ; 5 larvae: Naples, 4-V-1994, Sabal minor, M. Brodie ; 3 larvae: Naples, 220 Red Bird Lane, 26.0953, −81.6841, Livistona chinensis , 7-XII-2018, S. Krueger, E18-6379, MGCL slide 4998 (larval cuticles); 1♂: Naples, 2170 Logan Blvd N., 26.271453, −81.720689, Reared on Phoenix sp. , 12-I-2018, S. Krueger, E18-0219, MGCL slide 4569; Gilchrist Co.: 1♂: Trenton, Bell Ridge Longleaf W.E.A., ex larva on Serenoa repens , 22-XI-2017, eclosed 19-XII-17, T. Greenwald, M.E. Flowers, MGCL slide 4547; 1♀: same data, ecl. 9-I-2018, T. Greenwald, M.E. Flowers, MGCL slide 5025 (wings); 1 larva: same data except 12-VIII-2018, J. Hayden, E18-4295, MGCL slide 4852 (larval cuticle); 6 preserved larvae: same data except 10-XII-2017; Glades Co.: 3 larvae: Ortona, 17-X-1982, Sabal palmetto, D. Akin ; Hardee Co: 1 larva: Zolfo Springs, 2855 Kerlew Dr., 3-XII-2013, Butia capitata, S. Berryman, K. Clanton ; Hernando Co.: 5 larvae: Brooksville, 3-VIII-1084, Phoenix canariensis , R. Dudley; 5 larvae: Ridge Manor, 13-III-1984, Butia capitata , R. Dudley; Highlands Co.: 1♂: Archbold Biol. Sta. 10 mi. S Lake Placid, Raised on Serenoa repens , 4-V-1975, J.B. Heppner #75E7, MGCL slide 3302; 1♀: same data, MGCL slide 3303, genitalia and wings; Hillsborough Co.: 1♀: Tampa, USF Ecology Area, 20-II-1990, L.C. Dow, MGCL slide 4459; 5 larvae: Tampa, 12505 N. Nebraska Ave., 8-II-2018, Copernicia alba,T. Streeter ; Lake Co.: 1 larva: Howey Hills, 22-X-1980, Cocos sp. , H. Morrison; Lee Co.: 2 larvae: Fort Myers, 11-I- 1960, Sabal minor, H.W. Collins Jr. ; Levy Co.: 1♀: Goethe St. For., Gasline Rd., 29.1608, −82.5984, MV/UVL, 11-III-2017, J. Hayden, MGCL slide 4445; Manatee Co.: 1♂: Oneco, 13-VI-1954, Paula Dillman, MGCL slide 339; 1♂: Terra Ceia, 7-III-1986, L.C. Dow, MGCL slide 4444; Miami-Dade Co.: 1♂, 1♀: Florida City, 15-IX- 1991, W. Lee Adair Jr., MGCL slides 4443 (♀) and 4453 (♂); 9 larvae: Homestead, 24-IX-1993, Phoenix sp. , J. Peña; 5 larvae: Key Biscayne, 20-V-1980, Cocos nucifera, W. James ; 3 larvae: Lehigh, 15-V-1989, Serenoa repens, L. Maynard ; ~ 20 larvae: Miami, 29-IV-1981, Acoelorraphe wrightii, L. Howerton ; Monroe Co.: 1♂: Big Pine Key, 12-I-1988, J.B. Heppner, 1♂: same data, MGCL slide 4455 ( FSCA); 1♀: Big Pine Key, vic. Watson Hammock, 25-XII-1987, L.C. Dow; 5 larvae: Key Largo, 18-III-1980, Arecastrum romanzoffianum, G. Anderson ; 1♂: Key Vaca, Marathon, 30-VII-1997, L.C. Dow ( MGCL); 3 pupae: Ramrod Key, on Thrinax sp. , 15-I-2014, J. Farnum; Orange Co.: ~ 15 larvae: Pine Castle, 30-VII-1980, Phoenix canariensis, F. Ware ; 6 larvae: Union Park, 30-XII-1947, scrub palmetto, O.D. Link ; 4 larvae: Winter Garden, 13-II-1975, Roystonea oleracea, M.G. Howard Jr. ; Osceola Co.: 1♂: Kenansville, Joe Overstreet Rd., Larvae on Serenoa repens , 15-XII-2017, ecl. 11-I-2018, T.S. Greenwald, M.E. Flowers, E18-155, MGCL slides 4565 (♂); 1♀: same data, MGCL slide 4566; 1♂: same data, MGCL slide 5026 (wings); 1 pupa: Three Lakes W.M.A. on Serenoa repens , 2-XI-2018, M.E. Flowers, T. Greenwald; Palm Beach Co.: 3 larvae: Delray Beach, 10-VII-1987, Acoelorraphe wrightii, S.T. Hoskin ; 10 larvae: Delray Beach, 16668 Winners Circle, 26.4245, −80.2140, 17-VIII-2018, Washingtonia robusta, K. Harris, E 18- 4398; 3 larvae: Wellington, 16691 Rustic Rd., 22-X-2020, Phoenix canariensis, C. Parkes ; Pinellas Co.: 3 larvae: Seminole, 24-VII-1958, Phoenix canariensis, R.E. Woodruff, C.E. Bingamon, R.W. Miller ; 3 larvae: Seminole, 9-III-1971, Acoelorraphe wrightii, G.T. Williams ; 4 larvae: St. Petersburg, 11-IX-1967, Phoenix reclinata, C.K. Hickman ; 1 larva: St. Petersburg, 1-IV-1971, Washingtonia filifera, G.T. Williams ; 3 larvae: same data except Tarpon Springs, 8-IV-1971; Putnam Co.: 1♂, 1♀: Welaka For. Cons. Sta. Site 7, live oak-longleaf pine woods. 28–31-VII-1986, J.B. Heppner, MGCL slides 4451 (♂), 4452 (♀); ~ 10 larvae: [no site], 18-X-1981, Serenoa repens , P. Wales; Santa Rosa Co.: 1♂: Blackwater River St. Pk. 7-10-VI-2000 J.B. Heppner, MGCL slide 4257; Sarasota Co.: 1 larva: Osprey, 8-I-1969, Washingtonia robusta, J.R. McFarlin, C.J. Bickner ; St. Johns Co.: 1 larva: Saint Augustine, 8650 County Rd. 13 N., 2-I-2015, Phoenix sp. , K. Hire, E15-53; Sumter Co.: 1♂: Bushnell, Victoria’s Tiki Huts, reared on Sabal palmetto . 16-I-2014, eclosed 13-II-2014. J. Wylie, L.J. Buss. E17-4561, MGCL slide 4521; Volusia Co.: 5 larvae: Daytona Beach, VI-1959, Phoenix sp. , G.W. Dekle; 3 larvae: New Smyrna Beach, 28.9442, −81.1017, 6-II-2018, Washingtonia robusta, K. Coffey, E 18-433; Washington Co.: 1♀: Rock Hill Prsv. Near Chipley, 30.73600, −85.48364, MV/UVL 28-IV-2017, J. Hayden, MGCL slide 4258. North Carolina: Jones Co.: 1♂: No. of Stella Hardwood Landing, Croatan For., 2-VIII-1997, hardwoods, UV trap, J. Bolling Sullivan. Texas: Jasper Co.: 2♂: Martin Dies St. Pk., 13-X-1985, E.C. Knudson, [one] MGCL slide 4457; 1♀: same data, 17-VIII-1985, MGCL slide 4458.

Larval behavior. Although all of the palm-feeding species of Homaledra in Florida make frass-covered tunnels with loose silk, larvae of H. sabalella additionally bind leaf sections together with dense webs of tough silk ( Fig. 52 View Figures 48–58 ). The larvae gregariously strip the epidermis of the entire section of a palm leaf, from one edge to the other, so the tunnels are rather like broad, covered promenades ( Fig. 51 View Figures 48–58 ). They often bind together adjacent leaf sections, like a sandwich. The leaf-tying behavior facilitates feeding on species of Phoenix L. (date palms), as the larvae tie together numerous narrow leaflets ( Fig. 50 View Figures 48–58 ). The two species described below were not observed producing leaf-binding silk nor making exceptionally broad frass tunnels. However, H. sabalella larvae may not invariably tie leaves, so one should not rule out H. sabalella when one observes only simple frass tubes. The behavior and colony-rearing methods were studied in depth by Creighton (1929) and summarized in Creighton (1937).

Host plants. Acoelorraphe wrightii (Griseb. and H. Wendl.) H. Wendl. , Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc. , Cocos nucifera L., Cocos sp. , Copernicia alba Morong , Phoenix canariensis H. Wildpret , Phoenix reclinata Jacq. , Phoenix sp. , Roystonea oleracea (Jacq.) O.F. Cook , Sabal minor (Jacq.) Pers. , Sabal palmetto , Serenoa repens , Syagrus romanzoffianum (Cham.) Glassman , Thrinax sp. , Washingtonia filifera (Linden) H. Wendl. , and Washingtonia robusta H. Wendl.

Distribution. Bahama Islands; U.S.A.: southern coastal plain, South Carolina through Florida to eastern Texas; introduced in southern California.

Remarks. The specimens of Chambers’s type series do not vary in maculation, having no white lines on the forewings and no terminal black dashes.

Homaledra sabalella is confirmed to be the species that appeared in San Diego in 2000 ( Penrose 2001). The fact that it infests Phoenix agrees with the observed behavior in its native range ( Fig. 50 View Figures 48–58 ). Homaledra sabalella is also the species studied by Cronin (2011) in Louisiana, as shown by photographs of voucher specimens sent to the author.

Homaledra sabalella is represented by the BIN (Barcode Index Number) BOLD:AAD4166 (DOI: https:// doi.org/10.5883/BOLD:AAD4166).


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


Florida State Collection of Arthropods, The Museum of Entomology














Homaledra sabalella ( Chambers, 1880 )

Hayden, James E. 2021

Homaledra sabalella (Chambers)

Busck A. 1900: 238

Laverna sabalella

Chambers VT 1880: 185