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Family Adelidae - Fairy Moths

Adela septentrionella A daytime flying moth 1 of 2 - Adela ridingsella Tiny Black & white moth Adela eldorado/trigrapha ??? - Adela eldorada moth nectar-feeding flyer with HUGEMONGOUS antenna - Adela caeruleella Long-horned Caddisfly? - Adela Adela ridingsella
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
No Taxon (Moths)
Superfamily Incurvarioidea
Family Adelidae (Fairy Moths)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Formerly considered a subfamily of Incurvariidae
Explanation of Names
Adela is a Spanish feminine proper name with some historical significance: Saint Adela, etc. (Based on Internet searches.)
Borror (1) has a listing for adelo: Greek, meaning unknown, secret. (That is likely the origin of the name above.)
Numbers
All North American genera in this family belong to subfamily Adelinae.
18 species in 3 genera in North America listed at All-Leps.
Arnett lists three genera and 17 species. (2)
Size
Wingspan 4-28 mm
Identification
Small moths with very long antennae (3 times as long as forewing in males, and 1 to 2 times as long as forewing in females); basal half of antennae hairy in females.
Holarctic and Neotropical species (Adelinae) are diurnal and often iridescent, with white antennae (3).
A key for nearctic members of family (excluding Caucha) appears on pg 215 in Powell (1969). [See "Print References" below, or view directly here.]
Range
Much of North America.
Also occurs in Eurasia and Africa.
Habitat
Deciduous forests?
Season
Adults fly from April to June (Adela flys in April and May in North Carolina, Minnesota, eastern US)
Food
Larvae reported to feed on leaf fragments on ground.
Adults may take nectar from flowers of herbaceous plants as well as trees such as willow.
Life Cycle
Larvae make silken cases (4).
Remarks
Adelidae was formerly considered a subfamily (Adelinae) of Incurvariidae but was given family status in 1999 by D.R. Davis in the work by N.P. Kristensen cited under Print References below. That classification is followed by All-Leps and by Charles Covell on page xi in the 2nd edition of A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005)
Print References
Arnett, p. 659. (2)
Borror, listing for adelo (1)
Brimley, p. 313, lists Adela bella (Raleigh, etc. April, May). This is a synonym of A. caeruleella, see this listing of synonyms. (5)
Covell, pp. 454-455 Incurvariidae. (4)
Davis, D.R. in Kristensen, N.P. (Ed.) 1999. Lepidoptera: Moths and butterflies. Volume 1: Evolution, systematics and biogeography. Handbook of Zoology. 491 pp. Walter de Gruyter. Berlin/New York.
Powell & Opler, p. 39. (3)
Powell, J. A. , A Synopsis of Nearctic Adelid Moths, with Descriptions of New Species (Incurvariidae) (1969), pp 211-240 in the Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, Vol. 23, No. 4. Contains a brief introduction to taxonomy and biology of Adelidae, followed by a key and taxonomic discussions for all nearctic taxa (excluding Caucha). Detailed descriptions are given for Adela eldorada, A. thorpella, and A. oplerella...which were newly described in the synopsis.
Internet References
Adelidae Plates from "Moths of Western North America" by Powell & Opler(3)
Live adult image of Adela septentrionella and other info (Jeremy Tatum, Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island)
Pinned adult image of Adela purpurea (Insects of Cedar Creek, Minnesota)
Pinned adult image of Adela purpurea (Christian Guay, Insects of Quebec)
Pinned adult images of male and female undetermined Adela species (James Adams, Dalton State College, Georgia)
North Carolina State University Entomology Collection lists in Incurvariidae, but only one genus and species from Adelidae for the state: Adela caeruleella (14 specimens pinned)
Live adult images of 6 European species in 3 genera (Jeff Higgott, UK Lepidoptera)
Pinned adult image of female of the European species Adela croesella showing hairy base of antennae (B. Gustafsson, Sweden)
Classification of Adela in family Adelidae by Davis, in Kristensen, 1999 (Butterflies and Moths of the World)
Works Cited
1.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
2.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
3.Moths of Western North America
Powell and Opler. 2009. UC Press.
4.Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths
Charles V. Covell. 1984. Houghton Mifflin Company.
5.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.