Genus Leucospilapteryx

One species, Leucospilapteryx venustella (Fig. 1), occurs in Illinois; it is a leaf miner, primarily on white snakeroot, Aegeratina altissima (formerly Eupatorium rugosum) (Asteraceae), but it also has been reared from leaf mines on another asteraceous plant, cutleaf coneflower, Rudbeckia laciniata. The larval habit of L. venustella is unusual among the subfamily Gracillariinae, in that, throughout the entire duration of larval life, the leaf mine is tentiform on the underside of the leaf, as in lithocolletine genera such as Phyllonorycter and Cremastobombycia. However, when the larva of L. venustella finishes feeding, it displays typical gracillariine behavior in that it leaves the mine (at which time it assumes a bright red color) and pupates inside a small cocoon. The coloration of the adult moth is similar to that of Acrocercops astericola.

Leucospilapteryx venustella images

Figure 1. Leucospilapteryx venustella. Top: left, adult; right, upperside and underside views of leaf mines on white snakeroot, Aegeratina altissima (Asteraceae); bottom: left, upperside and underside views of leaf mine on cutleaf coneflower, Rudbeckia laciniata (Asteraceae); right, prepupal larva in wandering phase.

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