Australia Pterophoridae

Nippoptilia vitis in Queensland

At present, the Australian Faunal Database lists only one species from the genus Nippoptilia (Pterophoridae: Pterophorinae: Platyptiliini) as known to occur in Australia, Nippoptilia cinctipedalis (Walker, 1864). This species was added to the Australian list by Ernst Arenberger in 2006 and is now frequently recorded by observers down the east coast of the country, from Thursday Island in Far North Queensland to Tinonee in New South Wales, as well as from Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory.

Nippoptilia cinctipedalis is a highly distinctive member of its genus, with the first forewing lobe tapering to a point rather than showing a clear termen, and with a tawny ground colour and prominent darker brown markings on the dorsum of segments 2-3, 5 and 7 of the abdomen.

Alongside these moths, several individuals have been photographed from Nhulunbuy (NT) and Witta (QLD) that show the characteristic appearance of the remaining members of the genus, darker ground colouration, narrow forewings with a well-defined and angled termen and an overall ‘spiky’ appearance from the long tibial spurs and pointed wingtips.

Examples from Nhulunbuy:

Examples from Witta:

Two specimens were collected from Witta on 27 January 2021 for dissection, from a population feeding on a native grape vine, Cayratia clematidea (F.Muell.) Domin. Both these moths were female with genitalia matching those presented for Nippoptilia vitis (Sasaki, 1913) in the paper A taxonomic review of the genus Nippoptilia (Lepidoptera: Pterophoridae) from Korea, with description of a new species. This is based on the extraordinary lateral tufts of scales on either side of the antrum, the notched tip of the antrum and the narrow leaf-like signa on the corpus bursae.

The following are placeholder images to document the occurrence and validate the identification. I hope to provide better images once the genitalia have been properly mounted on slides.