Monday Moth

Stigmella sp.

This week I’m sharing a tiny, scruffy, and semi-competently spread Nepticulidae in the genus Stigmella from the same light trap of Prescott Arizona as the past few Monday Moths. I usually wouldn’t share a photo of a moth that isn’t in the best condition, but I’m using this as an example of technique. Not only was this 4mm moth pulled out of the bottom of a light trap, but it was field pinned and dried for over a year and a half. I’ve always heard that it can nearly be impossible to deal with the smallest of the small; and for the most part I haven’t. I used to think you need to capture them off of a light sheet alive in a vial and euthanize moments before spreading, all while never, ever let them dry the tiniest bit beforehand. But as it turns out, you can get away with a decent specimen by relaxing 24 hours and spreading upside down. Of course if you have a perfectly fresh specimen that avoided the blender of a bucket-trap it would make for a far superior specimen. Better yet, you pulled the leaf mine and reared the moth yourself. Most of these Nepticulidae are host-specific and far more diverse than we have given them credit. I’ve heard there could be at least 100 new species awaiting discovery in the US alone.

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