Guttulapsyche mayaensis, Sobczyk, 2021

Sobczyk, Thomas, 2021, Guttulapsyche mayaensis, gen. et sp. nov., a Psychidae from Mexico with unusual larval ethology (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Typhoniinae), Zootaxa 5016 (3), pp. 419-429 : 421-427

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Guttulapsyche mayaensis

sp. n.

Guttulapsyche mayaensis , sp. n.

( Figs 1–23 View FIGURES 1–7 View FIGURES 8–9 View FIGURES 10–13 View FIGURES 14–20 View FIGURES 21–23 )

Type material. Holotype, ♂, MEXICO, Yucatan, Chichén Itzà , 20°41′3″N, 88°34′7″ W, 01.XI.2018, e.l. 03.XII.2018, with larval case, leg. Thomas Sobczyk ( UNAM ( CNIN)). GoogleMaps

Paratypes: 4 ♂, 3 ♀ (all with larval case), same data as holotype, but e.l. 04.–18.XII.2018, with larval cases, additional 14 larval cases with associated larvae, pupal exuviae or pupal remains, same data as paratypes ( UNAM ( CNIN), CTS) GoogleMaps .

Diagnosis. See diagnosis for the genus. From Antillonatus sessilis Núñez & Davis, 2016a, monotypic and only found in Cuba, Guttulapsyche mayaensis gen. et. sp. nov. differs by its dark brown ground colour (A. sessilis shiny cream, with suffusion of pale ochreous scales and a row of ochreous spots along fold, at apex). Antillonatus sessilis shows clear differences in the ♂ -genital. The valva is markedly curved and has only short setae apically. The sac- culus is semicircular, clearly separated from valva surface by a constriction and covered with broad thorns. The vinculum is broadly triangular.

Etymology. Guttulapsyche mayaensis sp. n.: the specific epithet is derived from Maya, the indigene Mesoamerican civilization on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

Description. Male ( Figs 10–11 View FIGURES 10–13 ). Wingspan: 9.5–10.8 mm, forewing length: 4.6–5.2 mm.

Head. Vestiture brown, dorsally with dark brown scales, ventrally with setae of 1.5 to 2.5 length of segment diameter. Scales brown, remainder of flagellum paler. Labial palpus entirely white, distally slightly off-white.

Thorax. Dark brown. Legs with greyish femur, tibia, and two basal tarsal segments whitish, three distally segments blackish scaled. Forewing background blackish brown, at anterior margin at about a third and two thirds each a yellowish-white spot, another lighter spot preapical. A pale yellow spot on posterior margin at basal third, in this area also several light-coloured scales. Fringes are dark, but in two areas (at one quarter and at one half) very narrow and cream coloured. In some specimens, very narrow and darker transverse lines at a third and two thirds visible. In median area of basal transverse line sometimes with a small, light spot. Scales class 6 (after Sauter 1956), distally 6–8-pointed. Fringes broad, distally 6–10-pointed. Hindwings monochrome brown, only slightly lighter on anterior margin. Scales somewhat narrower than on forewings. Ventrally, spots on upper side hardly visible.

Abdomen. Dark brownish scaled.

Genitalia. As described for genus.

Female. ( Figs 12–13 View FIGURES 10–13 ). Wingspan 13.0– 13.5 mm, forewing length: 6.0– 6.5 mm.

Head and thorax. Similar to male except, ventrally short setae, 0.5 length of segment diameter.

Abdomen. Blackish brown, laterally more dense scaled. Seventh segment entirely encircled by blackish anal tuft.

Genitalia. As described for genus.

Larva ( Fig. 14–15 View FIGURES 14–20 ). Measured maximum length 9.7 mm, maximum head width 0.9 mm. Body integument dark brown with clearly pronounced, extensive pinacula, much paler.

Head ( Fig. 16 View FIGURES 14–20 ). Epicranial notch moderately flat, half length of epicranial suture. P1 arises closer to AF2 than A1. Five stemmata present and evenly distributed in an anteriodorsally arch. Stems 4–5 just below 3. Mandible with five cusps which become smaller mesally ( Fig. 17 View FIGURES 14–20 ). Clypeus triangular ( Fig. 18 View FIGURES 14–20 ). Labrum with six pairs of dorsal setae, all moderately long ( Fig. 19 View FIGURES 14–20 ), venter of labrum with three pairs of epipharyngal setae ( Fig. 20 View FIGURES 14–20 , two mesal setae markedly longer than lateral seta). Labial palpus with a very elongated basal segment, with 2/3 the length of spinneret mesal segment greatly reduced, only one tenth the length of segment 1, apical amount of segment 2 long, ~ twice the length of segment 2. Spinneret long and slender, gradually tapering to a narrow, simple point.

Thorax. Pronotum completely fused with prespiracular pinaculum bearing L1–3 and spiracle, XD1 long, twice as long as, subventral pinaculum well developed, extending nearly the length of segment. Dorsal pinacula of mesothorax fused to form a single, light brown plate nearly as large as pronotum, dorsal pinaculum of metathorax also connected middorsally. SV bisetose on T1–3.

Abdomen. D1 and D2 arise from separate ribbon-shaped pinacula on A1–9, all pinacula bearing D1 on A1 and A2 fused with opposite pinacula dorsally. L series bisetose on A1, A8 and A9, trisetose on A1–5 with L3 arising from separate pinacula, and L1–3 each from separate pinacula on A8–9. Anal plate with three pairs of setae: D1, SD 1 and SD 2. Prolegs with 18–23 crochets in a uniordinal, lateral penelipse. Anal crochets 17–21 in a uniordinal row opened caudally. Cuticle around anal aperture thickened but unmodified and similar in texture to remainder of segment.

Male pupa. ( Figs 21–23 View FIGURES 21–23 ). Length 4.5–5.0 mm, maximum width 1.0– 1.2 mm (n=7), reddish brown. Wing sheaths reaching anterior margin of abdominal segment A4. Head with one pair of dorsal setae, one pair on vertex and two pairs on frons, two pairs of dorsal setae on pronotum, mesonotum and abdominal segments A1–A8, A8 with three additional pairs of setae. Venter with SV series bisetose on A4–A6, setae close together and to proleg scars, A8 with four pairs of setae: two near anterior margin, one posterior to protuberances and one on ridge edges of ventral pair of cremasteral spines. Dorsum of abdomen with a single row of posterior oriented spines on anterior margin of A4–A7 and a single row of anterior oriented spines on posterior margin of A3–A5). Cremaster consisting of a pair of adjacent round tubercles at middle of segment and two pairs of small spines, one pair directed ventrally and the other, at apex, directed caudal, anal groove indistinct.

Female pupa. Length 5.5–7.0, maximum width 1.4–1.7 (n=3). Similar to male except: abdomen enlarged, average number of spines on dorsum of abdomen larger, spines absent from anterior margin of A8.

Larval case. ( Figs 24–26 View FIGURES 24–26 ). Greyish, stretched drop-shaped, 15.0–24.0 mm in length, 3.5–5.9 mm in diameter, walls soft, covered externally with lichen fragments and minute debris of bark and fungi, lined internally with dense greyish white silk.

DNA-Barcode. MTD_9170_BC_T7_1CBDSAD004 freely available: Guttulapsyche [tax]

Distribution. Only known from the type locality in the Yucatán Peninsula, south-eastern Mexico. Larval cases of similar shape have also been observed in Palenque, Uxmal, and Yaxchilán. They may also belong to the new species. Therefore, it could be assumed that it is more widespread on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Biology. The species presumably feeds on lichens that grow on tree trunks but no caterpillars were observed feeding. Guttulapsyche mayaensis gen. et. sp. nov. were found on tree trunks in the park-like landscape around Chichén Itzá. The larval cases were attached to the lower part of the trees. Usually, they were located at places which were densely overgrown with lichens. Rifts in bark or other sheltered places were preferred. These are the unique places where the larvae pupated. It can be assumed, however, that oviposition and larval development take place in such places. Geologically, the bedrock is limestone and originally the area was characterised by tropical rainforest. In November, however, only pupated larval cases were found, from most of which the adults had already emerged. Furthermore, specimens emerged later to middle of December in Germany. Because only scarce data from the only mentioned excursion are available there is little to report on phenology. The number of rainy days varies as does the amount of rain. Years of high humidity and warm temperatures are likely to provide suitable conditions for development in each month. No younger stages of development were found.

The distance from the ground of all observed or collected specimens varied between 0.5 to 3.5 meters. The way the larval cases are attached is remarkable. Typically, for pupation psychid caterpillars attach the wider end of their larval cases (these front aperture is employed for feeding and crawling) and turn around later to emerge at the narrower end (the original rear end for the purposes of defecation and emergence of the adult). However, Guttulapsyche mayaensis gen. et. sp. nov. were attached to the narrow end, which is believed to be the rear end. To do this, the caterpillars would first have to attach the larval case to the front end and then loosen this connection again after the rear end has been attached. Only then does the larval case hang down like a drop. If it is fact that this process takes place in the mentioned manner, it would be the only known species with such a process within the Psychidae .


Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico


Coleccion Nacional de Insectos, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico


Chongqing Teachers College