Elachista synethes (Meyrick, 1897)
(one synonym : Lithocolletis scythrodes Turner, 1947)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

side view
(Photo: courtesy of Lauri Kaila, from Elachistine Moths of Australia)

The Caterpillar of this species is grey, smooth, long, and thin, with a flattened head, and has a vague dark line along the back.

dorsal view
(Photo: courtesy of Lauri Kaila, from Elachistine Moths of Australia)

The caterpillars have been found feeding on grasses in POACEAE, including

  • Rescue Grass ( Bromus catharticus ),
  • Creeping Velvet Grass ( Holcus mollis ), and
  • Wheat ( Triticum aestivum ).

    The caterpillars bore downwards and upwards into a leaf of their foodplant creating a translucent white mine between the upper and lowers skins of the leaf. The mine is often along the midrib of the leaf, and filled with water. The frass is accumulated along a line at the side of the mine. The caterpillar grows to a length of about 1 cm.

    (Photo: courtesy of Lauri Kaila, from Elachistine Moths of Australia)

    When mature: the caterpillar exits the mine and forms a pupa in a cocoon composed of a dense silk network, spun at the base of a leaf. The pupa is brown with a narrow dark line along the back, and a vague broader dark line along each side of the back.

    (Photo: courtesy of CBG Photography Group, James Duggan, Sandford, Tasmania)

    The adult moths have dark brown forewings, each with two vague dark-edged transverse white bands, as well as another along the margin, and a coppery line along the length of each forewing. The hindwings are plain dark brown. The moths have a wingspan of about 8 mms.

    (Photo: courtesy of CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The species has been found in

  • New Zealand,

    as well as in Australia in

  • Queensland,
  • Norfolk Island,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Further reading

    Lauri Kaila,
    Elachistine Moths of Australia: (Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea: Elachistidae),
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Vol. 11,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2011, pp. 17, 21, 25, 33, 38-39, 43, 58, 63, 214, 217-221, 245, 271, 287,
    including Plates 3.5, 3.6, 19.1, 34.1, 42.2, 43.3; Figs. 62, 63, 123, 124, 336

    Edward Meyrick,
    Descriptions of Australian Microlepidoptera XVII Elachistidae,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Series 2, Volume 22, Part 2 (1897), p. 333, No. 66.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (written 14 July 2017, updated 28 June 2022)