Research Article
Research Article
A new species of Ypsolopha Latreille (Lepidoptera, Ypsolophidae) from the Andes of northern Chile
expand article infoHéctor A. Vargas
‡ Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile
Open Access


Male and female adults of Ypsolopha moltenii sp. n. (Lepidoptera, Ypsolophidae) are described and illustrated from the western slopes of the Andes of northern Chile. Larvae of Y. moltenii feed on inflorescences of the native shrub Adesmia verrucosa Meyen (Fabaceae). This finding represent the first species of Ypsolopha Latreille, 1796 described from mainland Chile and the first species of this genus with larvae feeding on the highly diverse South American genus Adesmia.


Ypsolophidae (Lepidoptera, Yponomeutoidea) is a worldwide micromoth family with more than 160 species described (van Nieukerken et al. 2011), whose monophyly has been supported in morphological (Kyrki 1990) and molecular (Sohn et al. 2013) studies. The widespread Ypsolopha Latreille, 1796 is the most diverse of the Ypsolophidae genera with more than 130 species described (Jin et al. 2013; Ponomarenko and Zinchenko 2013). Contrasting with the high species diversity of this genus in the Northern Hemisphere (e.g.: Sohn et al. 2010; Na et al. 2016), only seven species are known from the Neotropical region (Heppner 1984): five from Argentina, one from Peru and one from Chile.

The only Chilean representative of Ypsolopha, Y. telluris (Clarke, 1965), is endemic to the Juan Fernandez Islands (Clarke 1965); species of this genus have been not recorded from the mainland part of this country. The aim of this study is to describe and illustrate the first species of Ypsolopha from mainland Chile, recently discovered in a high elevation arid environment of the Andes in the northernmost part of this country.

Material and methods

The specimens used in this study were collected as larvae on inflorescences of the native shrub Adesmia verrucosa (Fabaceae) close to Socoroma village at about 3200 m elevation on the western slopes of the Andes of northern Chile (Figs 1–4), between May 2017 and April 2018. The collected larvae were placed in plastic vials and brought to the laboratory. Additional inflorescences were provided periodically until larvae finished feeding and pupated. Adults were mounted and their abdomens were dissected following standard procedures. The genitalia were stained with Eosin Y or Chlorazol black, and subsequently slide mounted with Euparal. Morphological observations were performed with a Leica M125 stereomicroscope and an Olympus BX51 optical microscope. Images were captured with a Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V digital camera.

Abbreviations of institutional collections

MNNC Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Santiago, Santiago, Chile

IDEA Colección Entomológica de la Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile

Figures 1–4. 

Habitat and host plant of Ypsolpha moltenii in the type locality. 1. Habitat of Y. moltenii close the Socoroma village, Arica Province, northern Chile, at about 3200 m elevation on the western slopes of the Andes. 2. A shrub of Adesmia verrucosa, the host plant of Y. moltenii. 3. Detail of a flower of A. verrucosa. 4. Fruits of A. verrucosa.


Ypsolopha moltenii sp. n.

Figs 5–9

Type material

Holotype, ♂, CHILE: Socoroma, Parinacota, Chile, May 2018, H.A. Vargas coll., ex-larva on Adesmia verrucosa, April 2018 (MNNC).

Paratypes, CHILE: 1 ♂, 1 ♀, same data as holotype (MNNC); two ♂♂, same data as holotype (IDEA); 1 ♂, 5 ♀♀,, Socoroma, Parinacota, Chile, June 2017, H.A. Vargas coll., ex-larva on Adesmia verrucosa, May 2017 (IDEA).


The male genitalia of Y. moltenii are remarkably similar to those of Y. hydraea (Meyrick, 1919), described from Oroya, Junin Department, on the western slopes of the Andes of central Peru; however, the knob on the costal margin of the valva of Y. moltenii enables its separation from H. hydraea. The male genitalia of the only other Chilean Ypsolopha, Y. telluris, also resemble Y. moltenii; however, the saccus of Y. telluris is about a half the length of a socius, whereas, these structures are about the same length in Y. moltenii; in addition, the aedeagus is strongly curved along the distal half and the vesica has three similar sized cornuti in Y. telluris, whereas the aedeagus is slightly curved at middle and the vesica has a single narrow cornutus in Y. moltenii. As the female genitalia of Y. hydraea and Y. telluris remain unknown, it is not possible to provide comparisons of these with Y. moltenii.


(Figs 5–8). Forewing length 9–10.1 mm.

Head. Frons with smooth dark gray scales; vertex mostly with whitish gray elongated narrow scales, a few dark gray scales scattered. Maxillary palpus creamy white. Labial palpus mostly dark gray; second segment mostly creamy white on inner face, dark gray scales of second segment projected beyond half of third segment. Antenna dark gray with a few lighter scales scattered. Circular ocellus postero-lateral to the scape base, close to compound eye margin.

Thorax. Dark gray dorsally, whitish gray laterally. Foreleg mostly dark gray with whitish gray scales intermixed, tibial epiphysis dark gray. Midleg with dark and whitish gray scales intermixed, tibial spurs dark gray. Hindleg mostly with whitish gray scales with a few dark gray scales scattered, tibial spurs whitish gray. Forewing mostly dark gray with a few light brown, creamy white and light gray scales scattered. Hindwing uniformly whitish gray, fringe in two parts, a stripe of short whitish gray scales and a stripe of longer (about 3 times the length of the shorter ones) creamy white scales.

Abdomen. Mostly dark gray with whitish gray scales intermixed. Segment VIII (Fig. 8): tergum triangular, with a pair of sclerotized posterior projections encircling the base of pleural lobes; sternum mostly membranous, with a pair of coremata, each arising from a circular area.

Male genitalia (Fig. 6). Tegumen with anterior margin deeply excavated at middle. Socius digitate, pointed apex, hair-like scales on the medial third. Gnathos Y-shaped; ventral arm widened, coarse, round apex, length about half the dorsal arms. Saccus narrow, similar length to socius. Anellus in two narrow triangular sclerotized plates separated by a membranous area. Valva ovate, medial third widened, distal margin round, a small knob on the apex of the costal margin, external and inner faces with hair-like scales, basal part of inner face with a short cylindrical projection with 3–5 apical hair-shaped scales close to costal margin and a saw-shaped projection (3–5 teeth) close to ventral margin. Aedeagus (Fig. 7) cylindrical, slightly ventrally curved at middle, dorsal surface slightly waved along distal third; vesica with a single arrow-shaped cornutus.


Similar to male in maculation and size. Eighth segment of the abdomen not modified as in male.

Female genitalia (Fig. 9). Papillae analis narrow, elongated, slightly sclerotized, with hair-like setae. Posterior apophysis spine-shaped, about three times the length of papillae analis. Anterior apophysis spine-shaped, about 2/3 the length of posterior apophysis, base bifurcated, dorsal arm continuous with tergum VIII, ventral arm continuous with sternum VIII. Sternum VIII trapezoid with lateral margins widely excavated close to the anterior margin, elongated hair-like setae on posterior vertices. Antrum membranous, cone-shaped, with a narrow sclerotized ring distally. Ductus bursae membranous, coiled, a narrow sclerotized patch on distal two thirds. Corpus bursae membranous, pear-shaped, slightly longer than ductus bursae, an elongated signum on the basal half of the right side, slightly widened on tips. Ductus seminalis at base of ductus bursae.

Figures 5–9. 

Adult stage of Ypsolopha moltenii. 5. Male in dorsal view, holotype. 6. Male genitalia in ventral view; upper left rectangle: detail of the inner face of the base of the left valva close to the costal margin showing a cylindrical projection with hair-shaped scales at apex; upper right rectangle: detail of the coarse surface of the ventral arm of the gnathos; bottom left rectangle: detail of the inner face of the base of the left valva close to the ventral margin showing a saw-shaped projection with three teeth. 7. Aedeagus in lateral view; upper right rectangle: detail of the subapical part of the aedeagus showing waved dorsal surface and cornutus. 8. Male abdominal segment VIII, coremata close to right margin. 9. Female genitalia in ventral view. Scale bars 5, 0.25, 0.25, 0.5, 0.5 mm, respectively.

Geographic distribution

Ypsolopha moltenii is currently known only from the type locality: Socoroma, Parinacota Province of northern Chile.

Host plant

(Figs 1–4). The only host plant currently known for Y. moltenii is the native shrub A. verrucosa, upon which the larvae were found in silk webs on inflorescences feeding on buds, flowers and unripe fruits.


The name of the species is dedicated to my Italian friend Agostino Molteni, for his admiration of the mountain landscapes of the Chilean Andes.


Although the highest species diversity of Ypsolophidae is currently known from the Northern Hemisphere, Sohn et al. (2013) suggested that the Neotropical species diversity of this family has been significantly underestimated. This suggestion is partially confirmed with the discovery of Y. moltenii, the first species of Ypsolopha described from mainland Chile. This finding also highlights the importance of surveying for larvae of Lepidoptera feeding on plants native to these little explored arid environments. The same approach has enabled the discovery of host-specialized representatives of micromoth genera and families previously unknown in Chile (e.g. Pereira et al. 2017; Brito and Vargas 2018).

Larvae of Ypsolopha can be found in silk webs on leaves of a wide range of plants (Dugdale et al. 1998), including representatives of the families Betulaceae, Berberidaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Celastraceae, Ephedraceae, Fabaceae, Fagaceae, Myricaceae, Pinaceae, Rosaceae, Salicaceae, Sapindaceae and Ulmaceae (Anikin et al. 2006; Robinson et al. 2010; Jin et al. 2013). Ypsolopha moltenii is the first Neotropical species of the genus with larvae feeding on Fabaceae. The larvae of the Palearctic Ypsolopha sarmaticella (Rebel, 1917) have been reared from two species of Caragana (Fabaceae) (Anikin et al. 2006). The geographic range of the host plant of Y. moltenii, A. verrucosa, is restricted to the northernmost part of Chile and southern Peru, where it is found on a narrow belt at about 3000–3800 m elevation (Macbride 1943; Trivelli and Valdivia 2009). Recently Gatica-Castro et al. (2015) have suggested the Vulnerable status for this shrub in its Chilean range. Accordingly, as larvae of Y. moltenii feed on reproductive parts of A. verrucosa, further studies should be performed to assess the effect of the feeding by the larvae of this micromoth on the reproductive biology of its host plant.

The South American genus Adesmia currently includes about 240 described species (Ulibarri and Burkart 2000), 130 of which are represented in Chile (Muñoz-Schick et al. 2016). Further sampling should be performed on additional species of Adesmia growing in different environments of the Andes to characterize the geographic range of A. moltenii and to assess whether this micromoth is able to use additional plants of the genus as hosts. Such a survey would be also a powerful tool to assess if additional species of Adesmia-feeding Ypsolopha are waiting to be discovered.


I thank Margarita Ponomarenko for valuable suggestions on a previous version of the manuscript; David C. Lees for kindly providing photographs of the lectotype of Y. hydraea deposited in the Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom; Sebastián Espinoza-Donoso for editing the figures and Lafayette Eaton for checking the English. This study was supported by project UTA-MAYOR 9718–17, from the Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile.


  • Anikin VV, Sachkov SA, Zolotuhin VV (2006) Fauna Lepidopterologica Volgo-Uralensis 150 years later: Changes and additions. Part 11. Epermenioidea, Yponomeutoidea, Choreutidae et Galacticidae (Insecta, Lepidoptera). Atalanta 37(3/4): 457–467.
  • Brito R, Vargas HA (2018) A new leaf-tying Episimus Walsingham (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) feeding on the vulnerable tree Haplorhus peruviana (Anacardiaceae) in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 53(2): 113–119.
  • Clarke JFG (1965) Microlepidoptera of Juan Fernandez Islands. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 117(3508): 1–105.
  • Dugdale JS, Kristensen NP, Robinson GS, Scoble MJ (1998) The Yponomeutidae. In: Kristensen NP (Ed.) Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies, 1 Evolution, systematics and biogeography.Handbuch der Zoologie/Handbook of Zoology 35. De Gruyter, Berlin, New York, 119–130.
  • Gatica-Castro A, Marticorena A, Rojas G, Arancio G, Squeo FA (2015) Estado de conservación de la flora nativa de las regiones de Arica-Parinacota y de Tarapacá, Chile. Gayana Botánica 72(2): 305–339.
  • Heppner JB (1984) Plutellidae. In: Heppner JB (Ed.). Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera, Checklist: Part 1, Micropterigoidea - Immoidea. Dr. W. Junk Publishers, The Hague, 55.
  • Jin Q, Wang S, Li H (2013) Review of the genus Ypsolopha Latreille, 1796 from China (Lepidoptera: Ypsolophidae). Zootaxa 3705(1): 001–091.
  • Kyrki J (1990) Tentative reclassification of holarctic Yponomeutoidea (Lepidoptera). Nota Lepidopterologica 13(1): 28–42.
  • Macbride JF (1943) Flora of Peru, Leguminosae. Publications of the Field Museum of Natural History, Botanical Series 33(3): 3–507.
  • Muñoz-Schick M, Eyzaguirre MT, Moreira-Muñoz A (2016) Nuevos antecedentes acerca de la especie endémica de Chile Adesmia viscosa Gillies ex Hook. et Arn. (Fabaceae). Boletín del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Chile 65: 307–311.
  • Na S-M, Lee D-J, Park B-S, Bae Y-S (2016) Two species of genus Ypsolopha Latreille (Lepidoptera: Ypsolophidae) from Korea, with first description of female of Ypsolopha fujimotoi Moriuti. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity 9(3) 351–354.
  • van Nieukerken EJ, Kaila L, Kitching IJ, Kristensen NP, Lees DC, Minet J, Mitter C, Mutanen M, Regier JC, Simonsen TJ, Wahlberg N, Yen S-H, Zahiri R, Adamski D, Baixeras J, Bartsch D, Bengtsson BÅ, Brown JW, Bucheli SR, Davis DR, De Prins J, De Prins W, Epstein ME, Gentili-Poole P, Gielis C, Hättenschwiler P, Hausmann A, Holloway JD, Kallies A, Karsholt O, Kawahara AY, Koster S, Kozlov MV, Lafontaine JD, Lamas G, Landry J-F, Lee S, Nuss M, Park K-T, Penz C, Rota J, Schintlmeister A, Schmidt BC, Sohn J-C, Solis MA, Tarmann GM, Warren AD, Weller S, Yakovlev RV, Zolotuhin VV, Zwick A (2011) Order Lepidoptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang Z-Q (Ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness.Zootaxa 3148: 212–221.
  • Pereira CM, Silva DS, Gonçalves GL, Vargas HA, Moreira GRP (2017) A new species of Leurocephala Davis & Mc Kay (Lepidoptera, Gracillariidae) from the Azapa Valley, northern Chilean Atacama Desert, with notes on life-history. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 61(1): 6–15.
  • Ponomarenko MG, Zinchenko YN (2013) New taxonomic data on the genus Ypsolopha Latreille (Lepidoptera, Ypsolophidae) with descriptions of two new species from the Russian Far East. ZooKeys 289: 25–39.
  • Robinson GS, Ackery PR, Kitching IJ, Beccaloni GW, Hernández LM (2010) HOSTS - A Database of the World’s Lepidopteran Hostplants. Natural History Museum, London. [Accessed: 12 July 2018]
  • Sohn J-C, Ponomarenko MG, Wu CS, Han HL, Wang XL (2010) Description of three new species of Ypsolopha Latreille (Lepidoptera: Ypsolophidae) from East Asia, redescription of Y. contractella (Caradja) and a checklist of East Asian Ypsolopha. Zootaxa 2511: 22–38.
  • Sohn J-C, Regier JC, Mitter C, Davis D, Landry J-F, Zwick A, Cummings MP (2013) A Molecular Phylogeny for Yponomeutoidea (Insecta, Lepidoptera, Ditrysia) and Its Implications for Classification, Biogeography and the Evolution of Host Plant Use. PLoS ONE 8(1): e55066.
  • Trivelli M, Valdivia V (2009) Alcances sobre Flora y Vegetación de la Cordillera de Los Andes. Región de Arica y Parinacota y Región de Tarapacá. Ministerio de Agricultura, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, Santiago, 180 pp.
  • Ulibarri EA, Burkart A (2000) Sinopsis de las especies de Adesmia (Leguminosae, Adesmiae) de la Argentina. Darwiniana 38(1–2): 59–126.
login to comment