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Tiny moth found on bayberry - Lyonetia

Tiny moth found on bayberry - Lyonetia
Rich's Head, Long Island, Frenchboro, Hancock County, Maine, USA
August 19, 2012
Size: 3 mm

Images of this individual: tag all
Tiny moth found on bayberry - Lyonetia Tiny moth found on bayberry - Lyonetia

amazing creature.
the fabric pattern is clearly based on the same art deco ideas as that in our elegantissimi Tupanea

This coloration pattern also is seen in Phyllocnistis (Lepidoptera) and Aguriahana (Hemiptera), and probably elsewhere. The selective rationale might be self-protective deception (as has been proposed for, e.g., hairstreak butterflies) via presenting, at the end opposite the real head, the appearance of the front end of a decoy insect, complete with legs, head, and antennae.

fascinating examples
thanks much, Terry
decoy insect looks like a very viable hypothesis to me; i've seen tephritoid flies with an ant painted on each wing --the fly walked, its wings spread, on a leaf, jerking a bit sideways and pretending to be fought over by two unyielding ants

color scheme
I admire that particular fly's choice of where to stand.

can't agree more

On my
ornamental, variegated corn, which I have found makes a nice backdrop even when it is starting to get a bit tattered as in this picture.

V, thank you for pointing out the relationship to art deco of the patterns on these neat little creatures. I can't unsee it now, not that I would want to. It makes them look particularly snazzy!

Moved from ID Request.
Interesting. I conducted a botanical inventory of that (190-acre) half of the island, and found no alder there. The most closely related plant I found was Betula papyrifera, which I see is a host for L. prunifoliella. Could this possibly be that? Unfortunately I did not collect this moth, as my primary interest is in linking adults to immature stages.

...On further reflection, what about Lyonetia latistrigella? Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata) was abundant where I found this moth. This looks like a better possibility than L. prunifoliella, but not a perfect match based on the images on BOLD.

In the course of trying to figure out your moth, I looked at the BOLD images and came to the same conclusions that you did. Like you, I don't believe that your moth can be reconciled with L. prunifoliella. Also, despite the resemblance of the MPG image of L. alniella, doubt is cast on that being the determination for your moth by the facts that the distribution of L. alniella may be restricted to the west, that the images of it on BOLD do not so closely resemble your moth, and especially that you found no alder on the site where the photo was taken. I agree that L. latifasciella, as seen in the BOLD images, is similar to your moth although not a perfect match, but an abundance of the larval host plant of L. latifasciella at the photo site would argue for that species. So, considering that there appears to be no candidate that agrees with your moth on all points, it probably is best to leave the ID at "Lyonetia sp."

Lyonetia sp.
This is something in Lyonetiidae, genus Lyonetia. The best match that I see is the photo of L. alniella here. That species was described from Colorado, and all of the records appear to be western; I don't know if it also occurs in the east.