Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mr. T (Moth)

Emmelina monodactyla
Plume Moths, the Pterophoridae, have always seemed to me terribly exotic animals, their T-shaped wings putting me in mind of some stick insects from the deepest jungle. Their shape comes from the narrow forewings which are held perpendicular to the body with the hindwings tucked under or folded within the forewings. The wings are often divided into lobes (or plumes, hence the common name) with long fringe scales accentuating the feather-like appearance (1). Ireland is home to 22 species of Pterophoridae (2), of which easily the most common is Emmelina monodactyla. This mottled brown species is found in many regions through out the globe and has proved itself to be a useful biological control agent against the Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis (3). The larvae of E. monodactyla feed on the plant leaves, causing extensive defoliation of this troublesome agricultural pest.

  1. Capinera, 2008. Encyclopedia of Entymology p. 2953
  2. Ferriss et al. 2009, Irish Biodiversity: A Taxonomic Inventory of Fauna p. 106
  3. Toth and Cagan, 2005. Biocontrol News and Information 26 pp. 17N – 40N

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