Phyllonorycter messaniella (Zeller, 1846)
Zeller's Midget
(previously known as Lithocolletis messaniella)
LITHOCOLLETINAE ,   GRACILLARIIDAE ,   GRACILLARIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


leaf mined by caterpillar, drawing by H. T. Stainton,
The Natural History of the Tineina,
Volume II, Lithocolletis, Part I (1857), Plate IV, fig. 2b.

This Caterpillar is off-white, with a yellow tapering abdomen having a dark dorsal line. The head and prothorax are dark brown.


caterpillar, drawing by H. T. Stainton,
The Natural History of the Tineina,
Volume II, Lithocolletis, Part I (1857), Plate VI, fig. 2a.

The caterpillars mine the leaves of the host plant, feeding on plants belonging the the family FAGACEAE including :

  • Southern Beech ( Nothofagus cunninghamii),
  • Sweet Chestnut ( Castanea vesca ),
  • Cork Oak ( Quercus suber ),
  • various other species of Beech ( Fagus sp. ), and
  • various other species of Oak ( Quercus sp. ).

    The adult moth has forewings with a complex pattern of gold and silver, and has narrow grey hindwings with substantial fringes. The head and thorax are gold, and the abdomen is black with a golden tuft on the tail. The moth has a wingspan of about 1 cm.


    moth, drawing by H. T. Stainton,
    The Natural History of the Tineina,
    Volume II, Lithocolletis, Part I (1857), Plate VI, fig. 2m.

    This species is a native of Europe, and was introduced into other parts of the world by unfortunate accident, and can now be found in :

  • New Zealand,
  • United Kingdom,

    as well as in Australia in

  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.


    H. T. Stainton,
    The Natural History of the Tineina, Volume II, Lithocolletis, Part I (1857),
    pp. 234-245, No. 17, Plate VI, fig. 2.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 6.

    Philipp C. Zeller,
    Die Arten der Blattminierergattung Lithocolletis,
    Linnaea Entomologica,
    Volume 1 (1846), pp. 221-222, No. 21, and also Figure 23.


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    (updated 11 September 2013, 11 February 2016)