Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae

Sceliodes laisalis

Name

Sceliodes laisalis (Walker, 1859)

Common name: Brown-tipped pearl

Original combination: Megaphysa laisalis Walker, 1859

Synonyms:

  • Daraba idmonealis Walker, 1859
  • Daraba plenisignata Walker, 1866
  • Hyamia subterminalis Walker, 1866

Alternative combinations: Daraba laisalis

Classification: Pyraloidea: Crambidae: Spilomelinae, Leucinodes group

Adult recognition

Forewing length: 10.0 - 13.0 mm, broad. The frons is rounded and not projected. In the female, the apical segment of the palps is very long, as long as the second segment, and it is short in the male. The wings are white and brown. The forewing posterior margin has an orange triangle that slightly contrasts with the brown ground color. The male genitalia have an elongate saccus and phallus. The fibula lacks long, distinct teeth but has a nodular basal swelling, and its apical process is short and broadly triangular. The female genitalia have a pair of smooth, relatively flat ostial sclerites and the antrum thickened like a round-bottomed flask.

Immature stages

Larvae are white, turning pink as prepupae, and grow to 18-20 mm in length. The pinacula are straw-colored. The prothoracic shield is only lightly pigmented, but there are two pairs of distinct brown spots, one mid-laterally above the spiracles and the other on the middle posterior margin. The A8 SD1 seta is anterodorsal of the spiracle.

Similar species

Sceliodes cordalis is similar in wing pattern, but the orange triangle on the forewing is not distinct. The frons is conically swollen, not flat. It has a fibula with long basal teeth and lacks a long saccus. The female ostial sclerites are rough and curved. Features that differentiate the larvae of Sceliodes species have not been worked out.

Behavior

Eggs are laid in small groups on the underside of the calyx. After 4 or 5 days, larvae hatch and immediately bore into the fruit; entry holes are small and hard to see. Larvae feed in the fruit for 10 to 12 days, then emerge to spin a cocoon away from the fruit, on the trunk or on the ground, incorporating dry debris into the cocoon, or occasionally on the fruit if a small, dried berry. Pupation lasts 8 to 15 days in a gray cocoon.

Distribution

The species occurs through most of Africa, from South Africa, through tropical Africa to Somalia, Sudan and Morocco. In Europe it is established in southern Spain and Portugal, and is occasionally intercepted elsewhere.

Hosts

Primary:

  • S. anguivi Lam. (“S. sodomaeum L.,” bitter apple, apple of Sodom, tomatillo del diablo).
  • S. macrocarpon L. (nightshade)
  • S. melongena L. (eggplant)

Secondary:

  • Capsicum annuum L. (pepper)
  • Solanum linnaeanum Hepper and P.-M. Jaeger
  • S. lycopersicon L. (tomato)

Comments

The species is distributed widely in Africa. In southern Spain, a few individual specimens were occasionally caught at light over the years, but it was found to be abundant only when its preferred local host plant, Solanum anguivi (= S. sodomeum), was identified and targeted. Presumably, the moth does not fly far from the hosts.

Literature

Aina, 1984.

Goff, 2013. http://www.africanmoths.com/pages/CRAMBIDAE/SPILOMELINAE/sceliodes%20laisalis.html

Huertas Dionisio, M. 2000.

Ogunwolu, 1978.

Taylor, 1951.

Photo credits

Fig. 7: © Roy Goff, www.africanmoths.com