Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
Adults. Very small moths, forewing length ca. 1.5–2.5 mm (wingspan ca. 3–5 mm).
Head (Figs 21–24). Almost oval in outline. Eyes in latero-ventral position, ventral margin not reaching lower margin of head. Eye phragma narrow, weakly melanised. No sutures present. Anterior tentorial arms very slender, prominently curved laterally before converging towards frons. Vestiture comprising lamellar scales, firmly appressed on head, in dry specimens scales on vertex sometimes raised, probably an artefact as a result of drying. Mouthparts: labrum narrow, pilifers absent. Mandibles small, as long as broad, relatively well sclerotised (Fig. 23). Maxilla with galea well developed and longer than head; maxillary palp reduced to a single segment. Labial palp well developed, 3-segmented, drooping, slightly shorter than head capsule; distal segment from slightly longer to 1.5× second segment; depression for Organ von Rath not seen. Antenna (Fig. 24) ca. half length of forewing with 14–20 segments [best counted in denuded specimens on slides], no sexual dimorphism. Scape and pedicel of equal length, slightly shorter than flagellomeres. Flagellomeres cylindrical, longer than wide, each with two annuli of scales, often differently coloured, resulting in visible dark and pale rings from above. Pecten present, but not easily visible; Nielsen (1980) counted 4–6 hairs in Holocacista rivillei.
Thorax. Vestiture of appressed lamellar scales, usually concolorous with ground colour of forewings. Foreleg with small but distinct epiphysis of about 36–48 μm in Holocacista rivillei (Fig. 26) to 50–82 µm in Holocacista capensis (Fig. 25), distinctly smaller than in Heliozela (Fig. 27) (150–165 μm in two measured European specimens) and without the microtrichia along the inner side, which probably serve as antennal cleaning apparatus. In Antispila, Antispilina (Fig. 28) and Coptodisca epiphysis completely lacking.
Wings. Male retinaculum a series of 7–12 hook-shaped bristles, arising from a thickened serrate portion of Sc. Frenulum in male a strong curved bristle (e.g., Fig. 30), in female two bristles present (Figs 29, 34); no pseudofrenular bristles in male. Humeral field with scattered microtrichia, otherwise restricted on wing membrane to area just posterior of retinaculum, arranged in longitudinal rows. Scale sockets regularly spaced, not in distinct rows.
Venation in forewing (Figs 29–34) with Sc to middle of costa. R unbranched, a separate vein, to costa. Rs with M and CuA, ending in 3–4 branches, interpreted as Rs1+2 to costa, Rs3+4 to termen, M and CuA to dorsum; in one species, Holocacista sp. _Terminalia_SA, tentatively placed here, Rs+M+Cu even more reduced, with only 2 branches. Hindwing with Sc+R to costa, Rs+ M with 2–3 branches, Rs to costa, 1 or 2 branches of M to termen and dorsum; CuA a separate vein to dorsum.
Wing pattern (Figs 1–16). On forewing typically comprising a pair of opposite pale, often metallic spots at 1/3 and a similarly coloured fascia or opposite spots at 2/3 on a dark background, brown to black, or brassy and shining. Variation exists in relative size, whether spots are joined to a fascia, or fascia is broken, or spots may be absent (e.g., Figs 11, 14, 16). Many species show sexual dimorphy in pattern, with females having more or larger pale elements than male. Only a single species from Arabian Peninsula has a different pattern with much yellow, probably as an adaptation to the desert habitat (Fig. 13). A fringe line often available, with fringe scales pale. Hindwings uniform grey. Androconial scales absent in all species examined.
Pregenital abdomen. Abdominal sclerites weakly sclerotised. Anterior sternum II subtriangular, free.
Male genitalia. Vinculum (S IX) very long, anteriorly often reaching beyond anterior margin of segment VI, almost cylindrical; tegumen (TIX) narrow, usually with a medial posterior process, probably a composite structure with uncus. Gnathos absent. Valva rather narrow, with stalked pectinifer halfway to inner margin, pecten comprising 6–12 blunt sensilla; transtilla typically with medial anterior projection, sublateral processes long. Phallocrypt (manica) with some to many strongly-sclerotised conical spines, often arranged in an asymmetric fashion, or with many smaller spines. Phallus outer tube often with remarkable ventrally-curved appendix on phallus, or appendices of different sizes and shapes. Juxta present and often bilobed or reduced to narrow ventral process.
Female genitalia. SVIII pointed, T VIII deeply indented. Oviscapt with few lateral cusps. Anterior and posterior apophyses subequal in length. Spermathecal papilla usually with circular sclerotisation. Ductus spermathecae with many coils.
Larva. Larvae yellow or whitish, usually with darker head capsule. Larva of Holocacista rivillei described in detail by Grandi (1931) and Marchi (1956). Head prognathous, legs and prolegs absent, but paired ambulatory calli on T2 and 3 (ventral and dorsal) and fused ventro-medial – calli on A3–6. Larvae with four feeding instars and a fifth non-feeding instar that constructs the case in which it pupates.