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The first documented report of metalmark moths (Lepidoptera: Choreutidae) in Israel, with the first record of Oriental Choreutis sexfasciella (Sauber) in the Palearctic



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ISRAEL JOURNAL OF ENTOMOLOGY, Vol. 49 (1), pp. 63– 67 (16 December 2019)
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3577837; ISSN (online) 2224-6304
The first documented report of metalmark moths
(Lepidoptera: Choreutidae) in Israel, with the first record
of Oriental Choreutis sexfasciella (Sauber) in the Palearctic
Oz Rittner
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies,
Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. E-mail:
The family of the metalmark moths (Lepidoptera: Choreutidea)—excluding the
Mil lie riinae that have been elevated to the family level (Rota 2011)— contains
413 species (Rota et al. 2014) in 19 genera (Nieukerken et al. 2011; Rota & Miller
2013), which are distributed worldwide.
Choreutis aegyptiaca (Zeller, 1867) was described from Cairo (Zeller 1867a) and
since then recorded throughout the Afrotropics (incl. La Réunion and the Arabian
Peninsula), India and Nepal (Meyrick 1914; Zachariades 1994; Gielis 2010; Gielis &
Bippus 2016). Some authors (Koçak & Kemal 2012; Savela 2019a) have mentioned
its presence in Israel, without, however, supporting their statements by actual records,
or references to such records, of this species in the country. This situation might have
been prompted by the tittle of the work (Zeller 1867b), where Ch. aegyptiaca was
mentioned shortly after its description, and its occurrence in Israel has been taken
for granted. The present note reports the first confirmed finding of Ch. aegyptiaca
in Israel (Fig. 1), although this is neither unexpected nor surprising.
Choreutis sexfasciella (Sauber, 1902 in Semper 1896–1902) (Fig. 2) was described
from the Philippines (Semper 1896–1902) and subsequently recorded from Sri Lanka
(Meyrick 1912), Japan (Arita & Diakonoff 1979), Taiwan (Heppner & Inoue 1992)
and Java (Savela 2019b). This is a small moth species with a wingspan measuring
approximately 10 mm. In recent years it has been observed and collected in Israel in
several localities, thus becoming the second species of metalmark moths in Israel.
This is also the first report of Ch. sexfasciella outside the Oriental Region.
Choreutis sexfasciella moths display a characteristic behavior, which includes
fast and erratic movements on top of leaves. The peak of their activity has been
ob served mainly during the afternoon and evening. The moths cling to the plants,
which are believed to be their hosts, resting and mating on the foliage. If at all,
they only occasionally rest on nearby plants and then return to the host plant (pers.
observ.). Although neither egg laying nor caterpillars have been observed, the
author strongly believes that the main host is Ficus sp. (Moraceae), on which adults
Figs 1, 2: The Choreutis metalmark moths in Israel: (1) Ch. aegyptiaca, Haruzzin Nature Reserve,
16.v.2010; (2) Ch. sexfasciella, Ramat HaSharon, 24.x.2019. (Photos © Oz Rittner)
were observed in most cases. Ficus spp. are known as hosts for a number of other
species of Choreutis (Diakonoff 1986; Zachariades 1994; Rota et al. 2014; Gielis
& Bippus 2016). At one locality the moths have been seen active on Carissa sp.
(Apocynaceae) displaying the same behavior, i.e. clinging to the host plant, and
fast and erratic movements (Ish-Shalom pers. comm.).
It is unknown when and how exactly Choreutis sexfasciella arrived in Israel,
and it is quite possible that the species’ distribution in Israel is wider than currently
known. Import of Ficus plants from Asia may prove to be the sole source of this
species in Israel. At the moment its presence does not seem to be alarming as no
substantial damage to the host plants has been recorded, and there has been no report
of any related observations of any kind so far. The fairly often occurrence of this
spe cies suggests that it was introduced to Israel at least several years ago and left
un noticed for a long period, most probably due to its small size and its presence in
urban environments, which traditionally receive less attention of entomologists. The
moths could also have been mistaken for flies due to their erratic behavior, for only
a very close encounter reveals bright colors of these small lepidopterans.
The examined material is deposited in the Lepidoptera collection of the Steinhardt
Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Choreutis aegyptiaca (Zeller, 1867)
(Fig. 1)
Simaethis aegyptiaca Zeller, 1867a: 461, pl. 24, fig. 1.
Observation records (photographed): Israel: Central Coastal Plain: Bnei Zion, Haruzzin Nature Re-
serve [32°13'20"N 34°51'27"E], 16.v.2010, O. Rittner.
Choreutis sexfasciella (Sauber, 1902 in Semper 1896 –1902)
(Fig. 2)
Choreutidia sexfasciella Sauber, 1902: Semper 1896–1902: 702.
Material examined: Israel: Central Coastal Plain: 1 ex., Tel-Aviv [32°04'N 34°47'E], 12.ix.2016, O.
Rittner; 3 ex., Ramat HaSharon [32°08'N 34°50'E], 24.x.2019, O. Rittner; 1 ex., Tel-Aviv, Zoological
Garden of Tel-Aviv University [32°06'45"N 34°48'30"E], 6.xi.2019, E. Morgulis.
Observation records (photographed): Israel: Central Coastal Plain: Herzliya [32°10'N 34°51'E],
13.ix.2015, O. Rittner; Tel-Aviv [32°04'N 34°47'E], 16.x.2016, O. Rittner; Southern Coastal Plain:
Hulda [31°50'N 34°53'E], 27.x.2019, P. Ish-Shalom; Mazkeret Batya [31°51'N 34°50'E], 19.xi.2019,
S. Tamir; Judean Hills: 'En Karem [31°46'N 35°10'E], 29.xi.2019, M. Laudon.
I highly appreciate comments and suggestions of Jadranka Rota (Biological Museum, Lund Uni-
versity, Sweden), who reviewed this note, and I want to thank her deeply for information and crucial
papers that she generously shared with me. I would also like to thank Roi Dor, Piki Ish-Shalom, Shaham
Tamir and Elizabeth (Liz) Morgulis for personal communications regarding different populations of
metalmark moths, which they observed and reported.
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In this study a multilocus phylogenetic analysis of metalmark moths (Lepidoptera: Choreutidae) focused on resolving the higher-level phylogeny of this group is presented. Through the analysis of this dataset, I explore different data-partitioning strategies in Bayesian phylogenetic inference, and find that a partitioning strategy can have a large influence on the results of phylogenetic analysis. Depending on how the data are partitioned, there can be significant differences in branch support. I also test for the existence of the Bayesian star tree paradox, and its importance in this dataset, and find that it appears to inflate support for the clade including Rhobonda gaurisana, Hemerophila houttuinialis, H. diva and H. felis, but plays no role in other cases where the differences between maximum-likelihood bootstraps and Bayesian posterior probabilities are large. The results of all the phylogenetic analyses strongly suggest that including Millieriinae in Choreutidae renders the family polyphyletic. The monophyly of the other two subfamilies, Brenthiinae and Choreutinae, as well as their sister-group relationship, is strongly supported. Similarly, the monophyly of all the genera examined except Hemerophila is also well supported. To bring the classification of Choreutidae in line with our current understanding of the phylogenetic relationships in the family, I propose to exclude Millieriinae from Choreutidae, elevate it to Millieriidae Heppner, and place it as incertae sedis within Ditrysia.
glyphipterygidae auctorum sensu lato: (glyphiterygidae sensu meyrick
  • Diakonoff
Diakonoff, a. 1986. glyphipterygidae auctorum sensu lato: (glyphiterygidae sensu meyrick, 1913);
order lepidoptera, family Choreutidae
  • C Gielis
gielis, C. 2010. order lepidoptera, family Choreutidae. In: van Harten, a. (ed.), Arthropod fauna of the United Arab Emirates. Vol. 3. Dar al ummah, abu Dhabi, pp. 552-553.
on the identity and early stages of Choreutis aegyptiaca from réunion Island (lepidoptera, Choreutidae)
  • C Gielis
  • M Bippus
gielis, C. & Bippus, m. 2016. on the identity and early stages of Choreutis aegyptiaca from réunion Island (lepidoptera, Choreutidae). Entomologische Berichten 76 (6): 206-208.
  • E Meyrick
Meyrick, e. 1912. [eucosmidae]-gelechiadae. Exotic Microlepidoptera (Marlborough) 1 (2): 33-64.
Part 2: Checklist. association for tropical lepidoptera
  • J B Heppner
  • H Inoue
Heppner, J.B. & Inoue, H. 1992. Lepidoptera of Taiwan. Vol. 1. Part 2: Checklist. association for tropical lepidoptera, gainesville, fl, usa. 276 pp.