Do leaf-mining Nepticulidae occur in the natural but so threatened Andean Polylepis forests?
Keywords: Polylepis, Nepticulidae, Stigmella Schrank, new species, leaf-mines, Peru, Ecuador
AbstractDespite the fact that Polylepis forests constitute the natural but threatened vegetation in much of the high Andes and are very important for their ecological functions, no leaf-mining Nepticulidae (Insecta: Lepidoptera, Nepticuloidea) associated with Polylepis Ruiz & Pav. as a host-plant have been recorded previously. In this paper, for the first time, we report on four discoveries of Polylepis-feeding Nepticulidae species in Ecuador and Peru. From the high Andes of Peru, we describe a new species Stigmella polylepiella Diškus & Stonis, sp. nov., whose larvae throughout all instars are leaf-miners in leaves of Polylepis racemosa Ruiz & Pav. and spin a unique shaped cocoon inside the leaf-mine. We also provide illustrations and short descriptions of male genitalia and leaf-mines of two other new Stigmella Schrank species, whose larvae are leaf-miners on Polylepis pauta Hieron. in Ecuador; these two taxa are documented but left unnamed because they are described from dissected developed pupae, not emerged adults. Additionally, we document leaf-mines of an unknown Nepticulidae taxon associated with Polylepis racemosa in the Peruvian Andes.