Elophila obliteralis

Waterlily Leafcutter
Elophila obliteralis

POHL: 80-0729
MONA: 4755
GenBank: 687493

Identification:
Head: Medium brown. Nose cone (palpi) short, brown, scaled, projecting outward and slightly up-turned.
Antenna: Brown. Female antenna very short, barely reaching end of thorax. Male antenna reaches to mid-wing.
Thorax: Medium to dark brown with vague whitish stripe across center. Underside of thorax whitish.
Wings:
Female: Long, extending well past abdomen. Base half of wings 1/3 medium brown, 1/3 light brown and last 1/3 dark brown; all sprinkled with white flecks. Faint, jagged dark AM (antemedial line) line. Lower half of wings light brown to orange-brown with large whitish patch on outer margin (costal). A white, uneven oval to crescent mark (discal cell) adjacent to whitish patch. Crescent usually has brownish-orange mark above it. Below the oval is brown with white jagged border that extends upward and across to inner margin. Jagged, broken line of white at wing tips, margin has checkered dark brown line. Fringe two-tone white with grayish tips. Hind wings light grayish-brown, with a short, white jagged line across middle and a pale tan spot below. Fringe pale tan.
Male: Wings much shorter, extending to abdomen tip. Dark brown, making the white lines and spots more pronounced; lower half of wings have only a faded cast of the orange-brown on the female. Hind wings darker.
Legs: Tannish, with varying amounts of dark brown scales.
Abdomen: Same colour as hind wings for both sexes. Each segment lower border has a light brown line. Female abdomen wider, tip sometimes lighter brown.

Similar Species:
Elophila faulalis is much lighter, yellow-brown overall; middle of wing has obvious dark spot with a white centre. Head yellow.
Only 1 found with valid DNA in Canada at Bruce Peninsula Jun, 2008.

Elophila gyrails female very faded-looking with (wings closed) lighter brownish-orange oval at mid wing and a blotch along outer margin (costal) below mid-wing. Antenna much longer than E. obliteralis female.
Elophila gyrails male (wings closed) has obvious dark oval area at mid-wing, with a white spot at each end and the dark area surrounded with white border. White line across wing tip not jagged. Both male and female have yellowish heads, not brown and white legs, feet striped. Rare, reported from London and north. Three E. gyrails recorded from Point Pelee were ‘suppressed’ by GenBank #JF841672-74.

Size: Female 10 to 12 mm long; Male 7 to 9 mm.

Habitat: Lakes, ponds and marshes.

Food: Over 50 different plants are used, not all of them aquatic. Pond Weed Potamogeton nutans, Duck Weed Lemna minor, Waterlilies Nymphaea, Sedges Cyperaceae, Ragweed Amaranthus, Nasturtium, Cardamine, Zinnia, Dahlia, Violet, Mint; also found on Willow Salix.

Flight Time: Late June to mid September in s. w. Ontario.

Life Cycle: Females lay 5 to 6 rows of amber-colored eggs on lower surface of leaves in early July to early August. Larvae cut small oval bits of leaf, webbing them together. Later instars move to top of leaf with movable case made of two pieces of leaf. Pupates in case, above water. One report below water. Larvae 13 to 14 mm long; gray-white, head small, brownish-yellow with a dark Y-mark. Over-wintering stage is unknown.
Parasite: Ichneumon Wasp Apsilops hirtifrons – the female is capable of hunting under water for moth larvae.

Comments: Common in Ontario.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page