Phyllocnistis tropaeolicola Kawahara, Nishida & Davis

Kawahara, Akito Y., Nishida, Kenji & Davis, Donald R., 2009, Systematics, host plants, and life histories of three new Phyllocnistis species from the central highlands of Costa Rica (Lepidoptera, Gracillariidae, Phyllocnistinae), ZooKeys 27 (27), pp. 7-30: 20-28

publication ID 10.3897/zookeys.27.250

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Phyllocnistis tropaeolicola Kawahara, Nishida & Davis

sp. n.

Phyllocnistis tropaeolicola Kawahara, Nishida & Davis   , sp. n.

Diagnosis ( Table 1 View Table 1 ). Phyllocnistis tropaeolicola   differs from P. drimiphaga   and P. maxberryi   in its larger size, having a slender longitudinal fascia, valva that are ̴2.4× the length of the vinculum, and a single, band-shaped signa. The pupa of P. tropaeolicola   has conical frontal processes and dorsal abdominal spines on each segment are arranged in a V.

Adult ( Fig. 2C View Figure 2 ). Forewing length 2.6–5.0 mm. Head. Vestiture silvery white, completely covered with smooth, broad, scales slightly overlapping anterior margin of eyes. Antenna ̴ equal to length of forewing, scape and pedicel enlarged laterally and covered in long silvery scales, a single row of fine short scales completely encircling each flagellomere. Labial palpus long, slender, ̴ 1.0 mm. Thorax. Forewing silvery white; with a slender, dark-brown, longitudinal fascia extending 2/3 length of wing to meet distally at junction of brown, costal and transverse fasciae; costal fascia slender and strongly oblique with dark-brown border; transverse fascia V-shaped, with a dark-brown border; apical to subapical area pale yellowish orange with a small black spot; three slender, dark-brown costal strigulae, three slender dark-brown apical strigulae, and one faint brown tornal strigula arising from black apical spot; fringe along tornal margin white with a dark-brown basal band of broad scales. Hindwing mostly white except for a band of pale brown scales extending length of costal margin. Legs similar to P. drimiphaga   , silvery white except dark brown over dorsal surface of femur, tibia and tarsus of foreleg. Abdomen. Length ̴ 2.0 mm, mostly brownish gray dorsally, silvery white ventrally. Coremata similar to P. drimiphaga   . Male genitalia ( Figs 6 View Figure 6 A–C). Similar to P. drimiphaga   except valva relatively longer and more slender, ̴ 2.4× the length of vinculum, nearly straight, with ventral lobe of apex slightly re-curved dorsad ( Fig. 6A View Figure 6 ). Genitalia slide USNM 33281. Female genitalia ( Figs 6D, E View Figure 6 ). Oviscapt greatly reduced as in P. drimiphaga   ; ductus bursae completely membranous, slender, elongate, ̴ 8.5× length of papillae anales and terminating at posterior end of corpus bursae; corpus bursae ̴ 0.6× length of ductus bursae; a single elongate signum present as a narrow band partially encircling middle of corpus bursae; signum with 2 acute, flattened spines projecting inwards from band; length of spines slightly more than width of signa; ductus seminalis extremely slender, elongate, ̴ 2.4 × length of corpus bursae and arising from near middle of corpus bursae. Genitalia slide USNM 33282, 33285, 33288.

Larva ( Figs 12A View Figure 12 , C–F). Young sap-feeding larva translucent yellow ( Fig. 12A View Figure 12 ). Mature sap-feeding larva ̴ 7.5 mm long, translucent yellow, head capsule translucent pale brown, prothoracic shield dark brown ( Figs 12 View Figure 12 C–). Cocoon-spinning larva whitish yellow, head capsule pale gray brown; ̴ 6.5 mm long ( Fig. 12F View Figure 12 ).

Pupa ( Figs 10 View Figure 10 , 12H). Brown, length up to ̴ 5 mm; diameter ̴ 1.0 mm. Vertex with a short, stout, process (cocoon-cutter) flanked by two, flattened, slightly longer processes ( Figs 9A, B, D, E View Figure 9 ) and two pairs of short setae ( Fig. 9C View Figure 9 ). Dorsum of A2–A7 with a pair of laterally curved, large spines in between which is a concentration of smaller spines, arranged in a triangular, V-shaped pattern ( Figs 9F, G View Figure 9 ); each segment with a pair of long, lateral, sensory setae ( Fig. 9L View Figure 9 ) that are shortest on A9–10 ( Figs 9J, K View Figure 9 ). A10 with a pair of slightly divergent processes from caudal apex ( Figs 9I, J View Figure 9 ).

Types. Holotype ( Fig. 2C View Figure 2 ): ♂, Costa Rica: Prov. Cartago, Cerro de la Muerte, Villa Mills, 3100 m, 13 Mar 2003 (adult emergence), host Tropaeolum emarginatum   , col./ rear Kenji Nishida, mine with pupal fold collected 6 Mar 2003 ( USNM)   . Paratypes: Immatures: 1 prepupa, 1 pupa ( USNM 34036), Villa Mills , Georgina , 9°33'30"N, 83°43'25.8"W, 3103 m, 12 Sep 2008, K. Nishida, host Tropaeolum emarginatum   GoogleMaps   . Adults: same locality as holotype, 6♂, 4♀: ♂ slide USNM 33281, ♀ slide USNM 33285 GoogleMaps   ; 2♂, 2♀ ( USNM 33280 View Materials , 33282 View Materials ) with adult emergence 11 Mar 2003   ; 1♂, with adult emergence 15 Mar 2003. 1♀ adult paratype at INBio and UCR, the remaining paratypes at USNM   .

Life history ( Fig. 12 View Figure 12 ). Mines of P. tropaeolicola   were readily found on plants growing along the Pan-American Highway ( Fig. 1H View Figure 1 ). Most mines occurred on full-grown new leaves ( Figs 12B, C View Figure 12 ) but some were found on developing leaves ( Fig. 12A View Figure 12 ). Thirteen had a single mine, two leaves had two, and one had three. All mines were found on the adaxial side, and the late sap-feeding instar fed on the mesophyll ( Fig. 12E View Figure 12 ).

The mine characteristically begins as a narrow, irregular serpentine gallery ( Fig. 12B View Figure 12 ) that widens as it extends along or near the leaf margin ( Figs 12B, C View Figure 12 ). It is relatively narrow, pale green to white with a less conspicuous dark green median frass line. Pupal cocoon folds were ̴ 5.5 mm long and were found near the leaf margin ( Figs 12B, G View Figure 12 ). Adults emerged 5–9 days after pupal cocoon folds were collected.

We found mines of an unidentified fungus gnat ( Diptera   : Mycetophilidae   ) at same site on the same plant. The mines, which usually occur several on a single leaf, are irregularly shaped blotch mines with dark-green frass scattered randomly within. The fly larva causes curling, drying, necrosis, and yellowing of the leaves, and was more abundant than P. tropaeolicola   mines. Several leaves were infested with both mycetophilid and P. tropaeolicola   larvae.

Host. Tropaeolum emarginatum Turcz   ( Tropaeolaceae   ) ( Fig. 1I View Figure 1 ). Tropaeolum   , the only genus recognized in Tropaeolaceae   , is Neotropical and contains approximately 90 species, many of which are found in Andean cloud forests ( Gentry 1996). Four species occur in Costa Rica, and T. emarginatum   is present on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes between 700 and 3200 m ( Alfaro-Vindas 2003; INBio 2009). Outside Costa Rica, T. emarginatum   has been recorded from Chiapas, Mexico to Cotopaxi, Ecuador ( Missouri Botanical Garden 2009). The tenuous, soft, and succulent vines of T. emarginatum   are usually found in forest edges and disturbed areas, and the flowers are red to yellow orange ( Alfaro-Vindas 2003; Gentry 1996). Most of the leaves are between 5 and 8 cm wide ( KN, pers. obs.).

Distribution. Known only from the type locality, Cerro de la Muerte, Villa Mills, at 3100 m elevation in the Cordillera de Talamanca.

Etymology. The species name, tropaeolicola   , is formed from its host plant genus name, Tropaeolum   , and the Latin word cola, meaning “inhabitant”.


Royal British Columbia Museum - Herbarium


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


National Biodiversity Institute, Costa Rica


University of California