Monday, October 11, 2010


Athrotaxivora McQuillan, 1998

Athrotaxivora McQuillan, 1998, Athrotaxivora tasmanica gen. & sp. nov. (Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea). An unusual moth associated with King William pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides D. Don., Taxodiaceae) in Tasmanian montane rainforests. Australian Journal of Entomology 37: 206–213 [206]. Type species: Athrotaxivora tasmanica McQuillan, 1998 by original designation.
Athrotaxivora McQuillan, 1998. Hoare, R. J. B. 2005. Hierodoris (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea: Oecophoridae), and overview of Oecophoridae. Fauna of New Zealand 54, 1-102 (14).
Athrotaxivora McQuillan, 1998. Edwards, E. D. (2003), Xyloryctinae. Australian Faunal Directory. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. [accessed 13 April 2011].

Original description, McQuillan 1998
Head (Fig. 3): cuticle melanised. Eyes large, interocular index 1.6. Ocelli and chaetosemata absent. Occiput with erect long, narrow lamellar scales. Frons with slender lamellar scales. Labial palpi long, recurved, second segment extending much beyond base of antennae, 2.2x height of eye, slender with appressed scales, anterior scales slightly roughened, apical segment about 0.6 x length of second, slender, with appressed scales, apex acute. Antenna (Figs 4,5) about two-thirds length of forewings, filiform, ciliations in male short (0.7x diameter of flagellum) and very short in female (0. 1x), scape without pecten, flagellum of approximately 50 segments. Proboscis present, coiled, dorsally scaled on proximal twothirds. Maxillary palp small, folded over base of proboscis.Thorax: Smooth-scaled; forelegs not dilated with scales, fore tibia with epiphysis; mid tibia smoothscaled; hind tibia with slender spreading scales mid dorsally.
Wings (Fig. 6): forewing index 0.28-0.30, elongate, fairly narrow, costa gently arched, apex rather acute, termen oblique, tornus broadly rounded; R4 and R5 stalked, R5 to apex, M2 arising nearer to M3 than to M1. M3 almost connate with CuA1 at base, CuA1 from lower angle of cell, curved in proximal half, CuA2 nearly straight from about three-fourths of cell.Hindwing index 0.40 - 0.42, elongate-ovate, slightly broader than forewing (1.1-1.2), scale fringe at anal angle 0.5 width of hindwing, frenulum in female with two bristles; R5 and M1 subparallel in proximal half, slightly divergent distally, M2 arising nearer to M3 than to M1, M3 and CuA1 connate from lower angle of cell, CuA2 from well before lower angle of cell, 1A + 2A straight, 3A present. 

Athrotaxivora, fig, 6, wing venation (McQuillan, 1998) 
Abdomen: Apodemes of sternum A2 of tineid type. Terga of A3-A8 with scIerotised dorsal setae (spines).
Male genitalia (Figs 7, 8): uncus well developed, narrow, dorsoventrally flattened, slightly sinuate in lateral view. Gnathos subequal in length to uncus, with slender arms articulated with the tegumen and united distally to form a long unadorned process with subacute apex. Valva long, rather evenly scIerotised, broadly rounded distally; inner surface with long dense setae, and a pulvinus near base; sacculus well defined, very short (about one-quarter length of valva) with prominent slender distal process with acute apex. Juxta with lateral lobes small. Aedeagus simple, curved, without coecum penis; vesica with large cornutus comprising a dorsoventrally flattened, transversely arched scIerite terminating in an apically acute spine.


Athrotaxivora, fig. 7,  genitalia (McQuillan, 1998) 

Athrotaxivora, fig. 8,  genitalia, dorsal view (McQuillan, 1998) 

Female genitalia (Fig. 9): abdominal segments 8-10 not unusually extensible, apophyses fairly short, apophyses posteriores 1.2-1.3 x length of apophyses anteriores, which are not forked posteriorly. Papillae anales large and broad, apices rounded, setiferous, especially dorsally. Ostium bursae in shallow depression in membrane between S7 and S8. Ductus bursae with short colliculum, anteriorly gradually broadening, not coiled. Ductus seminalis close to colliculum. Corpus bursae small, globular, without internal microtrichia; signum a small scobinate plate located centrally.


Athrotaxivora, fig 9, genitalia, (McQuillan, 1998) 

Immature stages.Larva (Figs 10-14,19): head (Fig. 11) hypognathous, cranium smooth to weakly tessellated, with six steinmata on each side, stemma 1 largest, stem mata 3 arid 4 contiguous. Spinneret long (Fig. 12). Mandibles without teeth, cutting edge a stout blade (Fig. 13).
Prothoracic shield only lightly pigmented; three prespiracular L setae present on a pigmented pinaculum, L1 ventrolateral of L2. Spiracle large, oval, separate from pinaculum. SV group bisetose. On mesothorax, D I and D2 in a vertical line on same strongly pigmented , pinaculum; SDI and SD2 ·on separate smaner and paler pinacula; L2 absent, Ll and L3 on separate pinacula; SV unisetose. Metathorax as for mesothorax but SOl and SD2 on a single pinaculum; L2 present, on same pinaculum as L1.Pinacula on abdomen pigmented, setae fine, pigmented pale fuscous. Spiracles on A 1-A 7 very small and subequal, about 0.3 x diameter of large spiracle on A8. DI and 02 on AI-A8 are obliquely placed, with DJ anterior to 02. On AI-A7, SDI is on a large ring-likepinaculum anterodorsal of the spiracle; S02 is absent as a seta. On AI- A8, Ll and L2 are on the same pinaculum, and oblique; L3 is widely separate and posteroventral of Ll and L2. On A8, the pinaculum of L3 is smaller. On A9, setae DI and D2 on separate pinacula; SOl represented by a socket devoid of a seta on a separate smaller pinaculum ventral of Dl and 02. SD2 absent on A9. Ll and L2 close together on one pinaculum, L3 on a separate remote pinaculum. Glabrous dorsal plate on A9 absent. On A I-A6, SV is trisetose; on A 7, SV is bisetose. SV unisetose on A8 and A9. Secondary SV setae absent.
Ventral prolegs on A3 to A6 small; crochets mostly biordinal in an ellipse; crochets of AIO biordinal, in a broad arc. Anal prolegs with nine setae each. Suranal plate weakly sclerotised and bluntly rounded, with eight setae.

Athrotaxivora, fig, 11, chaetotaxy (McQuillan, 1998) 

Pupa (Figs 15-17): pupa elongate, cylindrical, moderately sclerotised; setae long and conspicuous. Head rounded anteriorly, a pair of long setae on crown, a pair on upper part of frons, and a lateral pair near posterior margin of eye. Maxillary palpi developed. Fore femora slightly exposed. Antennae well exceeding wingtips, fused distally except near apex. Pronotum well sclerotised dorsally, rugose and finely pitted, with six long setae in a transverse line. Mesothorax and metathorax relatively smooth, with six long setae arranged in a shallow V-shape anteriorly. Abdomen with pro leg scars visible on A5 and A6. Spiracles prominent, especially on A4- A8. Dorsal anterior margin of A5-A8 with transversepolygonal sculpturing. D setae well developed on AI-A8, arranged in straight lines, A2 has a single spiracular seta, but A3-A8 have three setae (one above, two below the spiracle). A single lateral seta on A4-A9. SV setae as follows: three on A5 and A6, two onA7 and one on A8. Cremaster hardly developed, bluntly rounded, rugose, sculpted with low ridges. Ten hooked cremastral setae present, rather short, arranged as a row of six along the posterior margin with two lateral subapical setae on each side.

Athrotaxivora, fig 15-17, pupa (McQuillan, 1998)

Other references

The following Australian genera are tentatively assigned to the Hierodoris group: Scieropepla (14 described species,
including 1, S. typhicola Meyrick, shared with New Zealand), Nemotyla (1 Tasmanian alpine species, N. oribates Nielsen, McQuillan & Common) and Athrotaxivora (1 Tasmanian species, A. tasmanica McQuillan). The inclusion of Scieropepla and Nemotyla is based on their position in Kaila’s (2004) cladogram, where together with Izatha + Phaeosaces they form a monophyletic group basal to the core Xyloryctinae + Blastobasinae. Athrotaxivora was provisionally associated with Xyloryctinae by McQuillan (1998), who noted however that it lacked characters of the core Xyloryctinae. In characters illustrated by McQuillan (loc. cit.) it matches the diagnosis of the Hierodoris group given here. (Hoare, 1995).

Description: see original description, above.

Immature stages: Larva webbing leaves in terminal branchlets. Larval foodplant: Athrotaxis selaginoides (Taxodiaceae). (Edwards, 2003).

Distribution: Tasmania. Endemic. (Edwards, 2003).



Constituent species

Athrotaxivora tasmanica McQuillan, 1998

Athrotaxivora tasmanica McQuillan, 1998

Athrotaxivora tasmanica McQuillan, 1998, Athrotaxivora tasmanica gen. & sp. nov. (Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea). An unusual moth associated with King William pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides D. Don., Taxodiaceae) in Tasmanian montane rainforests. Australian Journal of Entomology 37: 206–213 [209]. Holotype ANIC ♂, Weindorfers Forest, Cradle Valley, Tasmania.
Athrotaxivora tasmanica McQuillan, 1998. Hoare, R. J. B. 2005. Hierodoris (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea: Oecophoridae), and overview of Oecophoridae. Fauna of New Zealand 54, 1-102 (14).
Athrotaxivora tasmanica McQuillan, 1998. Edwards, E. D. (2003), Xyloryctinae. Australian Faunal Directory. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. [accessed 13 April 2011].

 Original description, McQuillan 1998 
Types. Tasmania: holotype male: 41.38S 145.57E Weindorfers Forest, Cradle Valley 900 m, 16 March 1989, at uvl, P.B. McQuillan, in ANIC. Paratypes: two males, two females labelled as for holotype; two males, 41.50S 145.35E Mount Read 1000m, 12 March 1992, P.B. McQuillan, in SAMA, MVM, TMAG. 
Other material examined. Final-instar larvae: 12 larvae, 41.38S 145.57E Weindorfer's Forest, Cradle Valley, 5 February 1989, P.B. McQuillan; 24 February 1990, A. Yen, R. Coy & P. Lillywhite, via PKD ex Athrotaxis selaginoides, in ANIC, MVM, TMAG. Two larvae, 41.50S l45.35E Mount Read 1000m, 20 January 1988, P.B. McQuillan, ex Athrotaxis selaginoides, in TMAG.
Pupae: two from Reservoir Lakes near Mt La Perouse, collected as final-instar larvae 12 March 1996, J. Ashworth, in ANIC. 
Head: with occiput mostly white interspersed with a few grey scales. Frons and palpi with subequal numbers of white and grey scales.  
Thorax: smooth scaled with grey and white scales.
Wings (Figs 1,2): Forewing whitish, infuscated towards margins with grey scales leaving the central part of the disc paler; ornamented with dark fuscous spot-like markings, an obscure sub-basal spot, an oblique double dot (sometimes single) at one-third disc, a subcostal spot at mid costa, a discal spot at two-thirds disc, three or four costal spots on distal half of wing, termen weakly spotted, scale fringe whitish. Hindwing pale whitish grey, almost white in some specimens, scale fringe white. 
Male genitalia (Figs 7,8): As for genus. 
Female genitalia (Fig. 9): As for genus.Wingspan: Male 20-22mm, female 19-20mm. 
Larva (Figs 10-14,18,19). Slender, final instar 21 mm long. Head brown with darker patches laterally and on cranium. Body whitish grey, two Broad dorsolateral dark stripes extend from mesothorax to A2, rarely developed on later segments. Prothoracic shield lightly pigmented. Pinacula on abdomen pigmented, setae fine, pigmented pale fuscous. Supranal plate weakly sclerotised. 
Distribution (Fig. 20). Athrotaxivora has been found at only three locations in far southern and western Tasmania but could be more widespread within the overall distribution of King William Pine. Nevertheless, it is apparently absent from some otherwise suitable sites, such as the conifer forest growing in the moraine below Lake Fenton at 980m in Mount Field National Park. It was also searched for without success on the upper slopes of Algonkian Mountain (42.21S l46.02E), a remote rainforest site which has been badly affected by fire in the past decade. A population of A. tasmanica occurs near the summit of Mount Read, a mineralogically prospective area outside of any conservation zone. The Mount Read area has apparently served as an environmentally benign refuge for biota since the end of the last ice age, as evidenced by the recent discovery of a 10,000-year-old clone of Huon Pine, Lagarostrobus franklini, at Lake Selina.
Biology: details of oviposition are unknown but the female has a relatively short ovipositor and presumably lays eggs directly onto the foliage. Larvae construct untidy webbing retreats 5-lOcm long on the terminal branchlets (Fig. 19) from which they venture at night to graze on the adjacent foliage. Frass is incorporated into the silken retreats of the larva. Larval damage can be fairly conspicuous, especially if associated with discoloration of the adjacent leaves. Larvae have been collected by pyrethrum knock-down techniques. Pupation occurs within the shelter, and the pupal shell is not extruded at eclosion. Adults are nocturnally active and both sexes fly to light at night.King William pine, a large fire-sensitive rainforest tree endemic in montane environments of western Tasmania (Fig. 20), is the only known foodplant of A. tasmanica. It has not been found, despite searching, on the related pencil pine A. cuppressoides or A. laxifolia, a putative hybrid between the two.

Description: see original description above.
Food plants: foliage of King William pine, Athrotaxis selaginoides.
Flight period:
Distribution: Tasmania, Endemic.