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Photo#624734
Unknown Moth - Symmetrischema striatella

Unknown Moth - Symmetrischema striatella
Toms River, Ocean County, New Jersey, USA
March 29, 2012
Size: tiny

Moved
Moved from ID Request.

M. plutella vs. S. striatella
According to the images on this site, this moth could be either Megacraspedus plutella or Symmetrischema striatella.

There seems to be a mixup regarding those two species, because it looks to me as though all of the moths pictured under both of those names on BugGuide (BG) and Moth Photographers’ Group (MPG) are the same species, the question being, to which of the two names (if either) do they properly answer?

From Chambers’ original 1874 description of Megacraspedus plutella (Canadian Entomologist 6: 244): "head, thorax and the dorsal margin of the primaries to a point beyond the beginning of the ciliae, creamy white, the primaries otherwise dark gray brown, except that the extreme costa is creamy white and the costal margin is obscurely streaked with the same hue..." Given that description, then, M. plutella should look something like the related M. oxyphanes (an Australian species) as shown in the photo on the left-hand end of the row here (BOLD does not have any representatives of M. plutella in the taxonomy browser, even though MPG shows a Mark Dreiling photo of a moth identified as M. plutella here). At any rate, Chambers’ description certainly does not match the moths shown as M. plutella on BG and MPG.

From Murtfeldt’s original 1900 description of Symmetrischema striatella (Canadian Entomologist 32: 163): "A subcostal black, longitudinal line extends from base to apex, curving upward slightly and intensifying at the latter; beneath this, two more or less definite blackish striations, the one on inner margin being quite broad and diffused, while the discal streak is variable, not continuous, often consisting of two or three dashes..."

This is much more in line with the moth that is being shown as both M. plutella and S. striatella on BG and MPG, and in fact, one of these moths (see here) has been DNA barcoded and found to align with S. striatella.

Given all of this, it seems most likely that all of the moths being shown as M. plutella and S. striatella on BG and MPG are in actuality S. striatella, and if so, then S. striatella would be the determination for the moth in this photo.

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