Six new species of Eucalantica micro-moths discovered from the New World

July 18, 2011
This is Eucalantica costaricae, a new species. Credit: Sohn & Nishida

The Eucalantica genus belongs to the relatively primitive micro-moth group, Yponomeutidae. Six new species have been described by Mr. Jae-Cheon Sohn from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA and Mr. Kenji Nishida from Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica and published in the open access taxonomy journal Zookeys.

"Yponomeutid moths are important group in tracing the evolution of plant association in Lepidoptera. In spite of this importance, the family has been neglected by systematists and its biodiversity and phylogeny remain poorly understood" comments Mr. Sohn, Ph. D. candidate. Previous descriptive works have concentrated on the Holarctic and Australian faunas, the species of yponomeutids from the Neotropics remains significantly underestimated as Eucalantica being a good example.

Eucalantica has been known by only a single Nearctic species. A review of the genus found six new species: E. costaricae, E. ehecatlella, E. icarusella, E. powelli, and E. pumila, all five from Costa Rica; E. vaquero from southern USA and Mexico. "Our discoveries suggest that a high diversity of Eucalantica occurs in the tropical highlands of Central America and the is more diverse and widely distributed than previously thought" adds Mr. Nishida.

The study demonstrates how poor is our knowledge on the real diversity of life on Earth. According to some estimates, only less than 20% of extant species are described. Thousands of become extinct every year before they are named. Intensified taxonomic inventories and large-scale conservation measures may improve the situation towards more complete documentation and preservation of the wonderful world of biodiversity.

Explore further: DNA 'barcode' identified for plants

More information: Sohn J-C, Nishida K (2011) A taxonomic review of Eucalantica Busck (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae) with descriptions of six new species. ZooKeys 118: 75. doi:10.3897/zookeys.118.956

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