Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Notes on Scopariinae

General features of the diversity and biology of this large subfamily in New Zealand are discussed on the page Pyraloidea: Introduction. At the start of this imaging project, it was realised that the Scopariinae presented a particularly severe challenge, because of the unrevised and unsatisfactory taxonomy of this group in New Zealand and the vast diversity and inherent difficulty of the large genera Eudonia and Scoparia. However, the fact that all New Zealand primary type specimens of Scopariinae in the BMNH had already been dissected years ago by E.G. Munroe meant that a vital resource was available to resolve many taxonomic issues and advance the understanding of this group. Since a full taxonomic revision of New Zealand Scopariinae is a very daunting task and enormously beyond the scope of the current project, it was decided to make use of this resource to provide as accurate a set of named images as possible, bearing in mind that this is not a gallery of type specimens, but a gallery of specimens in the best possible condition to assist with identification. For this purpose, a list of problematic species names was drawn up based on the author’s experience and on a survey of material in NZAC. The genitalia slides of the primary types of all these species were photographed in the BMNH by Maia Vaswani, to whom I am deeply indebted for the excellent and highly informative results (the slide numbers are given by Dugdale (1988)). Selected NZAC specimens were then dissected for comparison, to establish, as far as possible, the correct application of these names. The oldest available name is used for each recognised species: the result is a ‘working taxonomy’, based on a hypothesis of unpublished synonymies that need to be further investigated and formalised elsewhere. This ‘working taxonomy’ of problematic taxa is fully discussed below. Unnamed species are illustrated only where these have been confused with named species in the literature and collections. With a few exceptions, primary types held in New Zealand institutions have not been dissected, and there remains a number of taxonomic issues relating to these names.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible within the constraints of this project to search through the Scopariinae holdings of New Zealand collections other than NZAC, and so some probably valid species not recognised in NZAC, or represented only by material in poor condition, are not in the image gallery. These are mostly rare or localised taxa, and/or species that have still not been confidently recognised since their description. The following potentially valid species are currently omitted (comments on many of these are given below): Eudonia alopecias (Meyrick); E. campbellensis (Munroe) (Campbell Island only); E. epicremna (Meyrick) (not recognised in NZAC); E. gressitti (Munroe) (Campbell Island only); E. linealis (Walker); E. oreas (Meyrick); Scoparia apheles Meyrick (not found in NZAC); S. parachalca (Meyrick); S. (s.l.) contexta Philpott (not in NZAC); S. (s.l.) crepuscula Salmon; S. (s.l.) monochroma Salmon; S. (s.l.) vulpecula Meyrick.

Eudonia alopecias (Meyrick 1901). The genitalia of the male lectotype appear almost indistinguishable from the genitalia of Eudonia feredayi (Knaggs), and alopecias may represent a large unicolorous form of the latter species. However, no closely similar specimens are present in NZAC, and the type locality (Mt Cook) lies in a known area of endemism, so the taxonomic status is left unresolved at present. Not illustrated.

Eudonia atmogramma (Meyrick, 1915). The genitalia of the male lectotype have not been distinguished from those of E. leptalea, but this streaked form or species only occurs in parts of the range of leptalea, and it is very tentatively retained as a separate taxon for the time being.

Eudonia axena (Meyrick, 1884). This species has not been satisfactorily distinguished from E. crypsinoa (Meyrick) and E. cyptastis (Meyrick); the genitalia of the lectotypes of all three show no definite differences. However, they are very tentatively retained as separate species here, with the name axena applied to weakly-marked populations from the north-western South Island (Nelson to Arthur’s Pass), which tend to be somewhat larger and broader-winged; crypsinoa is restricted to weakly-marked narrower-winged populations from Canterbury (east of the main divide) to Southland; cyptastis refers to specimens with distinct cross-lines and a short basal forewing streak occurring from the central North Island south. Perhaps only one or two very variable species are involved. See also under E. crypsinoa.

Eudonia bisinualis (Hudson, 1928). See under E. cymatias.

Eudonia chlamydota (Meyrick, 1884). This species varies in both forewing and hindwing coloration, and triclera (Meyrick) is treated as a colour variant here, based on genitalia of the holotype.

Eudonia crypsinoa (Meyrick, 1884). Eudonia paltomacha (Meyrick) was described from the same locality as crypsinoa (Castle Hill MC), based on specimens with dark longitudinal forewing streaking. There are no differences between the male genitalia of the lectotypes, so these are here treated as forms of a single species. E. axena (q.v.) also exhibits forms with longitudinal forewing streaking, which have gone under the name paltomacha in collections.

Eudonia cymatias (Meyrick, 1884). Specimens with a well-marked discal forewing streak have been treated as a separate species, E. bisinualis (Hudson); such specimens are, in fact, much more frequent than those (like the cymatias lectotype) without the streak. However, since the forms are otherwise identical, superficially and in male genitalia, and apparent intermediates in wing pattern occur, the two are here treated as a single species under the name E. cymatias.

Eudonia cyptastis (Meyrick, 1909). See under E. axena.

Eudonia dochmia (Meyrick, 1905). This species has remained poorly understood since its description, and Hudson (1928) knew it only from the type locality, Lake Wakatipu OL. The holotype has very characteristic male genitalia, allowing recognition of this taxon as a surprisingly widespread and variable species occurring almost throughout New Zealand. Scoparia (s.l.) sinuata Philpott (not illustrated) appears indistinguishable from dochmia on external characters, but the type has not been dissected.

Eudonia illota (Philpott, 1919). Placed in Eudonia here based on male genitalia of a syntype in NZAC. Wing pattern and male genitalia indicate that E. pachyerga (Meyrick) is conspecific.

Eudonia legnota (Meyrick, 1884). E. luminatrix (Meyrick) is subsumed under this name here based on male genitalia of the lectotypes and other material. Specimens with more whitish scaling between the antemedian and postmedian lines on the forewing have been referred to legnota, and darker specimens to luminatrix, but this character is variable.

Eudonia leptalea (Meyrick, 1884). Differences between this species and E. psammitis (q.v.) require elucidating. Scoparia (s.l.) humilialis Hudson (not illustrated) may also fall within the range of variation of leptalea, and further work is needed. See also under E. atmogramma.

Eudonia linealis (Walker, 1866). This species remains unrecognised, and the holotype in BMNH lacks its abdomen, but it may be a worn specimen of philerga (Meyrick), in which case linealis is the valid name. It is treated as a nomen dubium here.

Eudonia manganeutis (Meyrick, 1884). This species has been confused in collections with E. philerga and E. sp. A, but the male genitalia are distinctive. It is apparently rare, and is difficult to recognise without dissection, but the forewing is narrower than that of philerga, and the markings less distinct, apart from the white antemedian line. There are no orange scales on thorax and forewing (cf. E. sp. A).

Eudonia meliturga (Meyrick, 1905). Regarded as identical with E. subditella (Walker), q.v.

Eudonia oculata (Philpott, 1927). This species and E. parca (Philpott) are very closely related and similar, but the male genitalia indicate that they are distinct. The slightly broader forewing of parca may be a useful superficial character to distinguish the two (see photos), but further work is needed, since E. parca appears very poorly represented in collections. Note that the illustrated males of E. oculata and E. parca have both lost their labial palpi.

Eudonia oreas (Meyrick, 1884). This species has remained unrecognised in NZAC, but the genitalia of the holotype indicate that it is a good species, allied to E. locularis (although superficially it resembles philerga and manganeutis). Not illustrated.

Eudonia pachyerga (Meyrick, 1927). See under E. illota.

Eudonia paltomacha (Meyrick, 1884). See under E. crypsinoa.

Eudonia parca (Philpott, 1928). This species is placed in Eudonia here, following dissection of the holotype male in NZAC. See also under E. oculata.

Eudonia phalerias (Meyrick, 1905). Placed in Eudonia here based on male genitalia of a specimen in NZAC; the wing pattern is highly characteristic. E. quaestoria (Meyrick) appears to have identical genitalia and may be a colour form, but is kept separate as no intermediates are known.

Eudonia philetaera (Meyrick, 1884). This apparently rare species has barely been recognised since its original description, but two specimens resembling the holotype in wing pattern were found in NZAC, and the male genitalia also match those of the holotype. Known specimens are from NC and MK.

Eudonia psammitis (Meyrick, 1884). Consistent differences (if any) between this species and E. leptalea require elucidating; the name is used here only for large, very narrow-winged specimens from higher elevations, matching the lectotype.

Eudonia quaestoria (Meyrick, 1929). See under E. phalerias; tentatively retained as a separate taxon.

Eudonia subditella (Walker, 1866). Conspecific with E. meliturga (Meyrick), based on wing pattern and male genitalia of the lectotypes.

Eudonia triclera (Meyrick, 1905). See under E. chlamydota.

Eudonia ustiramis (Meyrick, 1931). This species has barely been recognised since its original description but the male genitalia of the holotype have been compared with those of specimens in NZAC, and this is now identified as the very locally common species of Northland and Auckland gumland heaths treated by Hoare (2011) as ‘Scoparia (s.l.) sp. 1’. Wing pattern is variable and the holotype has exceptionally strong dark longitudinal forewing streaking. Possibly more widespread in infertile habitats.

Eudonia sp. A. This is a widespread species that has been confused with E. philerga and E. manganeutis in collections, but may be distinguished when fresh by the presence of bright orange scaling on the thorax and forewings.

Scoparia astragalota (Meyrick, 1884). See under S. petrina.

Scoparia (s.l.) autumna Philpott, 1927. See under S. (s.l.) indistinctalis (Walker).

Scoparia cyameuta (Meyrick, 1884). Many specimens under this name in collections are in fact an undescribed species (Scoparia sp. B), differing in male genitalia and probably also in coloration and wing-shape (though definitive external characters still need elucidating). True cyameuta (based on male genitalia of holotype and NZAC specimens) appears to be a paler, narrower-winged species than S. sp. B. S. dryphactis Meyrick appears not to differ from cyameuta in male genitalia, but is more brownish and weakly marked, lacking a basal forewing streak; it is very tentatively treated as a separate species here. See also under S. petrina.

Scoparia (s.l.) crepuscula Salmon, 1946. See under S. tetracycla.

Scoparia dryphactis Meyrick, 1911. See under S. cyameuta and S. petrina.

Scoparia ergatis Meyrick, 1884. Males of this species were dissected for this study, for comparison with S. parachalca (q.v.), showing that it is a true Scoparia.

Scoparia (s.l.) famularis Philpott, 1930. This species was described from a single female from Fiordland (Kepler Mountains); the holotype is in AMNZ. The illustrated specimens are from Central Otago (Old Man Range) and match the type quite closely in wing pattern, except that they have more extensive white scaling on the forewing and a smaller claviform stigma. No dissections have been made, and the identification is therefore tentative.

Scoparia harpalea (Meyrick, 1884). S. limatula Philpott is identical, (based on wing pattern and male genitalia of both holotypes), and treated as conspecific here.

Scoparia (s.l.) humilialis Hudson, 1950. See under Eudonia leptalea.

Scoparia (s.l.) indistinctalis (Walker, 1863). The name indistinctalis was for many years applied incorrectly to Eudonia rakaiensis (Knaggs), following a misidentification by Meyrick (1885). The female type specimen of indistinctalis is worn, but retains sufficient diagnostic characters: the type locality is Auckland, and the only grey species known from Auckland with long basal and discal forewing streaks has gone under the name Scoparia (s.l.) autumna Philpott. Since female genitalia of autumna match those of the indistinctalis type, the two are considered conspecific here, under the latter name.

Scoparia limatula Philpott, 1930. See under S. harpalea.

Scoparia (s.l.) lychnophanes Meyrick, 1927. Not dissected for this study, but superficially very similar to S. encapna Meyrick, of which it may be a large form. Specimens identified here as lychnophanes are from near the type locality, Mt Holdsworth, Tararua Range WN.

Scoparia (s.l.) monochroma Salmon, 1946. See under S. tetracycla.

Scoparia parachalca Meyrick, 1884. This species has apparently remained unrecognised since its original discovery; females of Eudonia feredayi have sometimes been misidentified as parachalca. The genitalia of the male holotype indicate a possible relationship with S. ergatis, which is also superficially similar, but parachalca has fewer cornuti in the vesica. Not illustrated.

Scoparia petrina (Meyrick, 1884). Distinctions between this species, S. cyameuta and S. dryphactis require further investigation; the genitalia show possible subtle differences but further study is required to determine whether these are of diagnostic importance. The same applies to wing pattern, and one or two very variable taxa may be involved. In NZAC, specimens with the forewing predominantly brown have been referred to dryphactis; grey specimens with a long basal streak to cyameuta, and grey specimens with a short or no basal streak to petrina; this scheme is followed here with considerable misgivings. The whitish Scoparia astragalota (Meyrick) may also be involved in this complex, but no male of that species has been dissected for this project.

Scoparia (s.l.) sinuata Philpott, 1930. See under Eudonia dochmia.

Scoparia (s.l.) sylvestris Clarke, 1926. This species has not been recognised in this study as separable from Eudonia microphthalma (Meyrick), but the potential synonymy has not been confirmed by dissection. Not illustrated.

Scoparia (s.l.) tetracycla Meyrick, 1884. Scoparia crepuscula Salmon and S. monochroma Salmon (not illustrated) are closely related to this species and may even be, respectively, brightly and weakly marked forms of tetracycla, though this has not been tested by dissection. S. (s.l.) tetracycla itself is closely related to S. (s.l.) diphtheralis Walker, and the taxonomy of this species cluster needs further investigation.

Scoparia (s.l.) vulpecula Meyrick, 1927. This species, described only from the female, resembles Eudonia feredayi in colour, but has a longer, narrower forewing and a much more sinuous forewing costa. The genitalia have not been investigated, but it could prove to be a montane form (or sister-species) of E.feredayi, since the females of other species (e.g. E. trivirgata (Felder & Rogenhofer)) apparently vary in wing-shape through their range. A single worn female specimen perhaps referable to vulpecula was found in the series of E. feredayi in NZAC, but is not illustrated. The male of vulpecula has never been recognised.

Scoparia (s.l.) sp. A. This widespread, unnamed species is Scoparia minualis in the sense of Meyrick (1885: 83) and of Hudson (1928: 185 and pl. XXII fig. 37) (a misidentification of Walker’s species); Dugdale (1988: 157) calls Hudson’s figure a ‘poor likeness’ (of minualis); but it is a good likeness of this unnamed species. The true Eudonia minualis (Walker) was described and illustrated by Hudson under the name Scoparia chimeria Meyrick, a junior synonym. Scoparia (s.l.) sp. A has not been dissected but probably belongs in Eudonia.

Scoparia sp. B. This species has been confused in collections with S. cyameuta Meyrick (q.v.), but differs in male genitalia. It is apparently a darker, more heavily marked species than cyameuta, but reliable external characters have not yet been fully worked out.



Dugdale, J.S. 1988. Lepidoptera — annotated catalogue, and keys to family-group taxa. Fauna of New Zealand 14. 262 pp.

Hoare, R.J.B. 2011. Lepidoptera of gumland heaths — a threatened and rare ecosystem of northern New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist 34: 67-76.

Hudson, G.V. 1928. The Butterflies and Moths of New Zealand. Wellington, Ferguson & Osborn Ltd. 386 pp., 62 pl.

Meyrick, E. 1885. Descriptions of New Zealand Microlepidoptera. IV. Scopariidae. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 17: 68-120.