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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #367021

Research Project: Systematics of Moths Significant to Biodiversity, Quarantine, and Control, with a Focus on Invasive Species

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: A novel origin of pteridivory among the New World Noctuoidea: Fern-feeding litter moths (Erebidae: Herminiinae)

item Goldstein, Paul
item JANZEN, D. - University Of Pennsylvania
item HALLWACHS, W. - University Of Pennsylvania

Submitted to: ZooKeys
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/5/2021
Publication Date: 4/1/2021
Citation: Goldstein, P.Z., Janzen, D.H., Hallwachs, W. 2021. A novel origin of pteridivory among the New World Noctuoidea: Fern-feeding litter moths (Erebidae: Herminiinae). ZooKeys. 123(2):314-333.

Interpretive Summary: This paper documents the first substantial group of fern-feeding moths within a subfamily normally associated with leaf litter, and compares their diet breadths to those of Noctuidae. All specimens and rearing data are from a longstanding sampling project at Area Conservacion de Guanacaste (ACG), Costa Rica. This work is of interest to entomologists, plant-insect biologists, and insect identifiers.

Technical Abstract: Surveys of caterpillars at the Area Conservacion de Guanacaste, Costa Rica documented an assemblage of litter moths (Erebidae: Herminiinae) associated with ferns in at least 17 families. This represents the first documentation of extensive oliphagous fern-feeding among Herminiinae and possibly within New World Erebidae. Collectively, the phylogenetic affinities of host plants of pteridivorous Herminiinae at ACG differ markedly those of corresponding fern hosts of sympatric Noctuidae, (1) being less concentrated in Polypodiales; and (2) with the primary host plants’ of several herminiines including tree ferns (Cyath eaceae), which has been recorded only rarely as a host of known ACG noctuids. Pteridivorous herminiines appear closely related to species variously recorded from dead leaves, algae, mosses (Bryophyta), spikemosses (Selaginaceae), palms (Arecaceae), and the exclusively New World family Cyclanthaceae. Associations with monocots and mosses as hosts of moths with pteridivorous close relatives may represent a more general pattern shared, for example, by certain sawflies (Tenthredinidae).