Four Tischeriidae species in Colombia, including a new Astrotischeria species: is it not too little for a megadiverse country?

Jonas R. Stonis1*,

Arūnas Diškus2,

Wolfram Mey3

1 State Research Institute Nature Research Centre, Akademijos g. 2, Vilnius 08412, Lithuania

2 Vytautas Magnus University, K. Donelaičio g. 58, Kaunas 44248, Lithuania

3 Museum für Naturkunde, Invalidenstr. 43,
10115, Berlin, Germany

Until 2019, Tischeriidae, or trumpet moths, were totally unknown in Colombia. Here we review all currently available scanty data on the Colombian Tischeriidae and describe Astrotischeria recta Diškus, Mey & Stonis, sp. nov., a new species of trumpet moths from Valle de Cauca, Colombia. The new species is illustrated with photographs of the male genitalia, adults, and their habitats. In the current paper, we also briefly discuss the number of the Tischeriidae species in other Neotropical countries and provide renewed data.

Keywords: Astrotischeria, leaf miners, new species, trumpet moths


Biologically, phylogenetically, and judging by the  results of various previous studies, trumpet moths, Tischeriidae, or trumpet leaf miner moths, are one of the most intriguing families of the leaf-mining Lepidoptera. The unique specialised morphological characters of Tischeriidae were surveyed in the  monographs by Braun (1972) and Puplesis, Diškus (2003) as well as discussed in numerous recent papers (Kobayashi et al., 2016; Xu  et  al., 2017, 2018, 2021; Stonis  et  al., 2018, 2020a, 2020b, 2021a, 2021b, 2021c; Stonis & Solis, 2020). Recently, it was estimated that by the end of 2021, 170 tischeriid species were described and named globally (Dobrynina et al., 2022); currently, the  number for the  world fauna has reached 183 species. The  authors of the  latter publication have also provided temporal dynamics and charts of authors involved in the description of the Tischeriidae species. However, some areas of South East Asia, equatorial Africa, and tropical America are still poorly investigated (Stonis, Solis, 2020). Moreover, despite the fact that many new species were already collected, they still await taxonomic description.

The history of Tischeriidae research is considered to have begun in 1898 with the naming of the family, or even much earlier, some 227 years ago (Dobrynina et al., 2022), with the description of the very first species Tischeria ekebladella (Bjerkander, 1795) that currently belongs to the family. In the Neotropics, the study of the  Tischeriidae fauna began in the  late 19th-early 20th centuries with descriptions of two species from the Caribbean (Walsingham, 1897), one species from southwestern Mexico (Walsingham, 1914), one species from Guyana, and three species from Ecuador and Peru (Meyrick, 1915) (see Stonis  et  al., 2019a). At present, twenty species in total are described from the Neotropics.

For a long time, nothing was known about Tischeriidae from Colombia. Only in 2019, thanks to some collecting in the Valle del Cauca region, southwestern Colombia, the  first two species of Colombian Tischeriidae were discovered. By drawing on these findings, two new species, A. colombiana Stonis & Vargas and A. ochrimaculosa Diškus, Stonis & Vargas, were described and named. The latter species, A. ochrimaculosa, is also known to occur in Peru, whereas A. colombiana is currently known only from Colombia (see Stonis et al., 2019a). The discovery of these species in Colombia also revealed previously unknown host plants from the Asteraceae and Malvaceae families (Stonis et al., 2019b).

Approximately at the  same time, Wolfram Mey was collecting in Cundinamarca, Choachi (Colombia), and his fieldwork resulted in an unexpected discovery of a new Dishkeya species, D. ursipedella Diškus, Mey & Stonis (Stonis et al., 2022a). D. ursipedella is characterised by rather outstanding morphology of the male genitalia, and these data contributed to our general knowledge about a very peculiar Tischeriidae genus, Dishkeya Stonis (see Stonis & Solis, 2020).

Our current examination of the  material collected by Wolfram Mey in Charca Azul, El Cairo and Risaralda Sanctuario de Flora y Fauna, Otún-Quimbaya Station (Figs  1–4) in Colombia has resulted in the  discovery of one more Tischeriidae species, Astrotischeria recta sp. nov. This new species is characterised by distinctive, relatively straight dorsal processes of the valva and an asymmetrical phallus of the  male genitalia; therefore, the  data on the  species morphology and distribution broaden our knowledge about the Colombian Tischeriidae and Astrotischeria in general.

In this paper, we document and name the new species and briefly discuss the number of the Tischeriidae species in other Neotropical countries as well as provide renewed data.


The description of Astrotischeria recta sp. nov. is based on materials deposited in the  collection of the Natural History Museum in Berlin (Museum für Naturkunde, MfN), Germany, with further transfer of the holotype to the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Adults were caught at night time by using a battery (12 V)-operated light tower (F. Weber company, Germany), equipped with two 15 W super actinic light tubes.

Genitalia mounts on microscope slides were prepared following the  ‘traditional’ method described in detail by Stonis  et  al. (2022b). The  maceration of dissected abdomens was done in 10% KOH. Genitalia capsules and phallus were mounted in Euparal. Temporary and permanent genitalia mounts were examined and documented by using a Leica DM2500 microscope with an attached Leica DFC420 digital camera. Adults were measured and studied with a Lomo 10 and a Leica S6D stereoscopic microscopes, then photographed with a  Leica S6D stereoscopic microscope and a  Leica DFC290 digital camera.

Figs 1–4. Sites in Valle de Cauca, Colombia. 1 – habitat of Astrotischeria recta Diškus, Mey & Stonis sp. nov., Charca Azul, El Cairo; 2, 3 – same, Risaralda Sanctuario de Flora y Fauna; 4 – Otún-Quimbaya Station


Astrotischeria recta Diškus, Mey & Stonis, sp. nov.

Type material. Holotype: 1  ♂, COLOM-BIA: Valle de Cauca, El Cairo, Charca Azul, 4°49’13”N, 76°10’16”W, elevation 1750  m, 18.ii.2019, leg. Wolfram Mey, genitalia slide no. AD1122♂ (MfN). Paratypes (19 ♂): 16 ♂, COLOMBIA: same label data as holotype, genitalia slide no.  AD1121♂ (one specimen without abdomen) (MfN); 3  ♂, COLOMBIA: Risaralda Sanctuario de Flora y Fauna, Otún-Quimbaya Station, 4°44’30”N, 75°34’76”W, elevation 1900m, 16.ii.2019, leg. W. Mey, collected at night time, genitalia slide no. AD1123 (one specimen with abdomen lost) (MfN).

Diagnosis. From the  most similar Astrotischeria atlantica Diškus & Stonis, A. bacchariphaga Diškus & Stonis, and A. cornuata Diškus & Stonis, the  new species differs in the relatively straight and wide dorsal processes of the  valva, short lateral lobes of the  uncus, and apically asymmetrical phallus.

Male (Figs 5–7). Forewing length 3.7–4.1 mm; wingspan 7.9–8.8 mm (n = 20).

Head. Frons and palpi golden cream; pecten small, slender, golden cream; frontal tuft comprised of long lamellar scales, yellowish grey, sometimes glossy white to golden brownish distally; collar relatively short and indistinctive, glossy, comprised of brownish grey lamellar scales; antenna longer than one half the length of forewing; flagellum dark grey on upper side and underside, with first basal segments (flagellomeres) usually yellowish cream on upper side.

Thorax. Tegula densely covered with brown-black ochre-tipped or brown-grey yellow-tipped scales. Thorax and forewing densely speckled with brown-grey ochre-tipped scales; spots, if present, indistinctive, irregular, formed of dark grey scales near to the tornus and costal margin of the forewing; fringe pale grey to cream grey, usually with an indistinctive (sometimes doubled) fringe line of brown-black scales; forewing underside grey-brown, slightly golden glossy with weak purple iridescence, without androconia or spots, except for some blackish special scales along the costal margin basally. Hindwing grey to pale grey on upper side and underside, without androconia; fringe pale grey. Legs brownish cream; forelegs and midlegs densely covered with brown-grey (occasionally brown-black) scales on upper side.

Abdomen. Brown-grey on upper side, yellowish ochre, speckled with grey-brown scales on underside; anal tufts lateral, indistinctive, brownish cream; genital segments covered with brownish cream lamellar scales.

Genitalia (Figs 9–17) with capsule 550– 655 µm long (or 650–670 µm long if measured from vinculum to valval tips), 280–300  µm wide. Uncus (Figs  13–15) comprised of two longer lateral lobes and two short, rounded, distally pointed medial lobes (Fig.  14). Valva 410–430 µm long (excluding the basal process), with long, relatively straight and wide dorsal lobe (Fig. 10). Anellus (Fig. 11) thickened only laterally, with indistinctive 1–2 papillae basally. Vinculum large, distally triangular or rounded. Phallus about 550–590  µm long, slender, apically divided, with two asymmetrical apical lobes (Figs 8, 9).

Female. Unknown.

Bionomics (Figs 1–3, 19). The host plant is unknown; probably Baccharis  L., Asteraceae (see Remarks). Adults fly in February. Otherwise, the biology is unknown.

Distribution. The  species is known from the subtropical habitats of western Colombia at an elevation of about 1750–1900 m.

Etymology. The species name is derived from the  Latin rectus (straight, upright, correct) in the reference of the long and relatively straight dorsal processes of the valva and relatively long and typical Astrotischeria genital capsule.

Remarks. The  host plant of Astrotischeria recta sp. nov. is unknown, but all the most similar (and, supposedly, phylogenetically related) species are trophically associated exclusively with various plants of the  genus Baccharis  L. (Asteraceae). Therefore, it can be assumed that A. recta is also a Baccharis-feeding species.

Figs 5–9. Astrotischeria recta Diškus, Mey & Stonis sp. nov. 5 – male adult, holotype; 6, 7 – same, paratypes; 8 – phallus, lateral view, paratype, genitalia slide no. AD1121; 9 – same, ventral view of the apex, holotype, genitalia slide no. AD1122 (MfN)
Figs 10–12. Astrotischeria recta Diškus, Mey & Stonis sp. nov., holotype, genitalia slide no. AD1122 (MfN). 10, 12 – ventral view of capsule with phallus inside; 11 – anellus
Figs 13–17. Astrotischeria recta Diškus, Mey & Stonis sp. nov., paratype, genitalia slide no. AD1121 (MfN). 13–15 – uncus; 16, 17 – lateral view of capsule with phallus removed


Someone may be surprised to learn that Tischeriidae are rather poorly presented in many scientific collections. The  documentation of these tiny but ecologically and phylogenetically interesting leaf-mining insects is usually hampered by the  lack of qualified specialists and probably by the small size of the study object, the micro moths (Stonis et al., 2019a).

The total number of Tischeriidae of the Neotropics now amounts to 28 described species, including the  newly discovered species described in this paper. Here, we present an updated account of the described Tischeriidae species by area or country: Caribbean countries (three species), Mexico (two species), Guatemala (11 species), Belize (14 species), Honduras (three species) Guyana (one species), Colombia (four species), Ecuador (ten species), Peru (13 species), Brazil (two species), Bolivia (seven species), Paraguay (one species), Uruguay (one species), Argentina (three species), and Chile (one species) (Fig.  18). Some species occur in more than one country, which explains some overlap, and the total (76) does not coincide with the total 64 species known from the region. We did not list countries which have no published Tischeriidae records.

Colombia is widely regarded as one of the  world’s ‘megadiverse’ countries possessing a great complexity of ecological, climatic, biological, and ecosystemic components and hosting extraordinary biodiversity that accounts for a  significantly large proportion of the  Earth’s total biodiversity. Meanwhile, the  current list of the  Colombian Tischeriidae comprises only about 2% of the world’s Tischeriidae. Do the  four currently known Tischeriidae species (Fig. 20) already reflect the full picture of the actual diversity of the Colombian Tischeriidae?

The Tischeriidae issue is related not to ‘a lack of species’ but the lack of effort and insufficient sampling throughout Central and South America, particularly in Colombia. We can roughly speculate about 25–30 or even more species of Tischeriidae in Colombia awaiting their discovery.

Fig. 18. An updated account of the described Tischeriidae species by country or area. Note that some species occur in more than one country, which accounts for some overlap, and the total (76) does not coincide with the total of 64 species known from the Neotropical region (countries with no published Tischeriidae records were not listed)
Figs 19–20. Colombian Tischeriidae. 19 – Risaralda Sanctuario de Flora y Fauna, habitat of Astrotischeria recta Diškus, Mey & Stonis sp. nov.; 20 – distribution map of all currently known Tischeriidae species from Colombia (map base, courtesy of Virgilijus Gerulaitis)

Recently, 14 Tischeriidae species were reported to have been recorded from a  single tropical forest locality in Belize in Central America (Stonis et al., 2020a). To date, this is the highest number of Tischeriidae species recorded from a single locality worldwide and it exhibits a  remarkable range of morphological structures. In its species numbers, the identified fauna from a single site in Belize (Las Cuevas) exceeds the entire European fauna and represents nearly one-fourth of the Tischeriidae fauna of the Neotropics (Stonis et al., 2020a).

As stated earlier (Stonis et al., 2015), the current situation with the Colombian Tischeriidae is still rather disconcerting and requires urgent action in planning and extensive taxonomic investigation of Tischeriidae in different ecosystems and habitats of this amazing country.


We are grateful to Professor Asociado Dr Rodulfo Ospina-Torres and his wife Patricia, our Colombian partners from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá.

Funding of collecting for this study was provided by the Bundesministerium für Forschung und Bildung, Germany (01DN16010) and the Vicerectoria de Investigacion de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá (Proyectos de Importancia Institucional, Codigo Hermes 33103). We also thank the Empresa de Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Bogotá (EAAB) for authorisation of the access to the research area. The export permission was granted to the third author by the Autoridad Nacional de Licencias Ambientales (ANLA) (Nos 00983 and 00994).

Received 2 October 2022

Accepted 13 October 2022


1. Bjerkander C. Phalaena Ekebladella en ny Nattfjáril belkrifven. Kungliga Svenska Vetenska-psakademiens Handlingar. 1795; 16: 58–63. Swedish.

2. Braun  AF. Tischeriidae of America North of Mexico (Microlepidoptera). Mem Am Entomol Soc. 1972; 28: 1–148.

3. Dobrynina  V, Stonis  JR, Diškus  A, Solis  MA, Baryshnikova  SV, Shin  Y-M. Global Nepticulidae, Opostegidae, and Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera): temporal dynamics of species descriptions and their authors. Zootaxa. 2022; 5099(4): 450–74.

4. Kobayashi  S, Sato  H, Hirano  N, Yamada  K, Hirowatari  T. A review of the  Japanese species of the family Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera). ZooKeys. 2016; 601: 127–51. https://doi. org/10.3897/zookeys.601.7782

5. Meyrick  E. Descriptions of South American Micro-Lepidoptera. Trans Entomol Soc Lond. 1915; 48(2): 201–56.

6. Puplesis  R, Diškus  A. The  Nepticuloidea & Tischerioidea (Lepidoptera) – a global review, with strategic regional revisions. Kaunas: Lututė Publishers; 2003. 512 p.

7. Stonis  JR, Diškus  A, Carvalho Filho  F, Lewis OT. American Asteraceae-feeding Astrotischeria species with a highly modified, three-lobed valva in the male genitalia (Lepidoptera, Tischeriidae). Zootaxa. 2018; 4469(1): 1–69.

8. Stonis JR, Diškus A, Mey W. Dishkeya, a recently described endemic Tischeriidae genus, now discovered in Colombia. Zootaxa. 2022a; 5214(2): 285–293. doi: https://doi. org/10.11646/zootaxa.5214.2.8

9. Stonis JR, Diškus A, Monro AK, Dai X, Xu J. Most trumpet moths don’t feed on plants of the  nettle family but Paratischeria does: the  first discovery of Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera) on Urticaceae in Asia. Zootaxa. 2021a; 5040(2): 247–64.

10. Stonis JR, Diškus A, Remeikis A, Lewis OT. Exceptional diversity of Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera) from a single tropical forest site in Belize, Central America. Eur J Taxon. 2020a; 723: 33–76.

11. Stonis JR, Diškus A, Remeikis A, Paulavičiūtė B, Katinas L, Cumbicus Torres N. Differentiation of Paratischeria and Neotischeria gen. nov. (Lepidoptera, Tischeriidae), with a  description of new, mostly Asteraceae-feeding species from Central and South America. Biologija. 2021b; 67(3): 145–73.

12. Stonis  JR, Diškus  A, Remeikis  A, Solis  MA, Katinas L. Exotic-looking Neotropical Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera) and their host plants. ZooKeys. 2020b; 970: 117–58.

13. Stonis  JR, Diškus  A, Solis  MA, Monro  AK. Diagnostics of Manitischeria gen. nov., an Old-World genus of leaf-mining Tischeriidae, composed of new species and species formerly in Tischeria Zeller. Zootaxa. 2021c; 4964(2): 251–87.

14. Stonis  JR, Diškus  A, Vargas  S. Discovery of leaf-mining Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera) in Colombia and their distribution in the Neotropics. Zootaxa. 2019a; 4638(2): 219–36.

15. Stonis  JR, Remeikis  A, Diškus  A. Neotropical Nepticulidae (a pictorial monograph introducing an electronic identification tool). Vilnius: Nature Research Centre; 2022b. 363  p.

16. Stonis JR, Remeikis A, Gerulaitis V, Forero D. An embarrassing situation requiring urgent action: Colombia, a  country of extraordinary biodiversity, still counts only few species of Nepticuloidea (Insecta, Lepidoptera). Biologija. 2015; 61(3/4): 123–29.

17. Stonis  JR, Remeikis  A, Vargas  S. Colombian Nepticuloidea and Tischerioidea: a small step out of obscurity? Biologija. 2019b; 65(2): 48–55.

18. Stonis JR, Solis MA. Dishkeya gen. nov., a New World endemic genus of leaf-mining Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera), transferred from Tischeria Zeller. Biologija. 2020; 66(3): 123–35.

19. Walsingham TG. Revision of the West-Indian Micro-Lepidoptera, with descriptions of new species. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1897; 1: 54– 183.

20. Walsingham TG. Insecta. Lepidoptera – Heterocera. In: Godman FD, Salvin O, editors. Biologia Centrali–Americana. 4. London: Taylor & Francis; 1914. p. 225–393, pls. 10.

21. Xu J, Dai X, Liao C, Diškus A, Stonis JR. Discovery of Ulmaceae-feeding Tischeriidae (Lepidoptera, Tischerioidea), Tischeria ulmella  sp. nov., and the first report of the Quercus-feeding T. naraensis Sato in China. Zootaxa. 2018; 4399(3): 361–70.

22. Xu J, Dai X, Liu P, Bai H, Diškus A, Stonis JR. First report on Paratischeria from Asia (Lepidoptera: Tischeriidae). Zootaxa. 2017; 4350(2): 331–44. https://doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4350.2.8.

23. Xu J, Dai X, Rimšaitė J, Diškus A, Stonis JR. Discovery of the  new Coptotriche species in China revealed two novel host-plant families and host-plant orders for Tischeriidae, a family of stenophagous, leaf-mining lepidopterans. Zootaxa. 2021; 5071(1): 76–96.

* Corresponding author. Email:

Jonas Rimantas Stonis, Arūnas Diškus, Wolfram Mey



Straipsnyje aprašoma nauja mokslui mažųjų šeriuo-taūsių (Tischeriidae) rūšis – Astrotischeria recta sp. nov. Pateikiami naujausi, gerokai papildyti duome-nys apie Tischeriidae rūšių skaičių kitose neotropi-nio regiono šalyse.

Raktažodžiai: Astrotischeria, minuotojai, naujos rūšys, mažieji šeriuotaūsiai