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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #379719

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

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: What are the smallest moths (Lepidoptera) in the world?

item STONIS, JONAS R. - Lithuanian University Of Educational Sciences
item REMEIKIS, ANDRIUS - Nature Research Centre
item DISKUS, ARUNAS - Lithuanian University Of Educational Sciences
item SVETLANA, BARYSHNIKOVA - Russian Academy Of Sciences
item Solis, M Alma

Submitted to: Zootaxa
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/5/2021
Publication Date: 3/12/2021
Citation: Stonis, J., Remeikis, A., Diskus, A., Svetlana, B., Solis, M.A. 2021. What are the smallest moths (Lepidoptera) in the world?. European Journal of Taxonomy. 4942(2):296-289.

Interpretive Summary: Leaf mining moths are some of the smallest in the world. Some species are serious pests, for example, of citrus, and many feed in leaves of forest trees and other plants. This research answers the question: what is the smallest moth in the world? We found the smallest moths occur in only two families and the smallest forewing length is 1.2–1.3 mm and smallest wingspan is 2.6–2.8 mm and. The smallest moth species known globally are listed and a new pygmy moth from Peru is described. This research will be useful to biologists interested in the biology and identity of leaf mining moths.

Technical Abstract: The world’s smallest moths in Lepidoptera (Insecta) and the complexity in making such a determination are examined and discussed. The forewing length and wingspan of 650 species were measured and the same data was retrieved from published papers to determine which species or family have the smallest moths in the world. The minimal recorded forewing length was found to be around 1.2–1.3 mm and the wingspan around 2.6–2.8 mm in two families, the Gracillaridae and Nepticulidae. Among Lepidoptera, the following species have the smallest moths globally: the European Johanssoniella acetosae (Stainton), the Peruvian Simplimorpha kailai Stonis & Diškus, the Mexican Stigmella maya Remeikis & Stonis, the Mediterranean S. diniensis (Klimesh), the Mediterranean Parafomoria liguricella (Klimesh) (Nepticulidae), the South East Asian Porphyrosela alternata Kumata, and the Central African P. desmodivora De Prins (Gracillariidae). Additionally, in the Nepticulidae, we provide a measurement update for Stigmella maya Remeikis & Stonis, one of the tiniest species with a forewing length of 1.3 mm and wingspan of 2.8 mm, and describe a new species, Stigmella incaica Diškus & Stonis, sp. nov., with a forewing length of 1.75 to 1.95 mm and a wingspan of 3.8 to 4.3 mm.