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08-Epicephala colymbetella Turner, 1947.JPG
Epicephala colymbetella
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Gracillariidae
Subfamily: Gracillariinae
Genus: Epicephala
Meyrick, 1880

See text

  • Iraina Diakonoff, 1955
  • Leiocephala Kuznetzov & Baryschnikova, 2001

Epicephala (leafflower moths) is a genus of moths in the family Gracillariidae.

Epicephala is of note in the fields of pollination biology and coevolution because many species in this genus are pollinators of plants in the genera Glochidion, Phyllanthus, and Breynia (Phyllanthaceae). These pollinating Epicephala actively pollinate the flowers of their host plants—thereby ensuring that the plants may produce viable seeds—but also lay eggs in the flowers' ovaries, where their larvae consume a subset of the developing seeds as nourishment.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] This relationship is similar to other specialized pollinating seed-predation mutualisms such as those between figs and fig wasps and yuccas and yucca moths.

Other species of Epicephala consume the seeds of of species of Phyllanthus or Flueggea (Phyllanthaceae) as larvae, but do not pollinate their host plants as adults.[4][8] At least some of these species have evolved from pollinating ancestors.[9]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Kato, M.; Takimura, A.; Kawakita, A. (2003) "An obligate pollination mutualism and reciprocal diversification in the tree genus Glochidion (Euphorbiaceae)." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 100 (9): 5264–5267
  2. ^ Kawakita, A.; Kato, M. (2004) "Evolution of obligate pollination mutualism in New Caledonian Phyllanthus (Euphorbiaceae)." American Journal of Botany 91: 410–415.
  3. ^ Kawakita, A.; Kato, M. (2004) Obligate pollination mutualism in Breynia (Phyllanthaceae): further documentation of pollination mutualism involving Epicephala moths (Gracillariidae). American Journal of Botany. 91:1319–1325.
  4. ^ a b Kawakita, A.; Kato, M. (2009) "Repeated independent evolution of obligate pollination mutualism in the Phyllantheae-Epicephala association." Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 276: 417–426.
  5. ^ Hembry, D. H.; Okamoto, T.; Gillespie, R. G. (2012) Repeated colonization of remote islands by specialized mutualists. Biology Letters. 8: 258–261.
  6. ^ Zhang, J.; Wang, S.; Li, H.; Hu, B.; Yang, X.; Wang, Z. (2012) "Diffuse coevolution between two Epicephala species (Gracillariidae) and two Breynia species (Phyllanthaceae). PLOS ONE. 7: e41657.
  7. ^ Luo, S.-X.; Yao, G.; Wang, Z.; Zhang, D.; Hembry, D. H. (2017) "A novel, enigmatic basal leafflower moth lineage pollinating a derived leafflower host illustrates the dynamics of host shifts, partner replacement, and apparent co-adaptation in intimate mutualisms." The American Naturalist. 189: 422–435.
  8. ^ Hu, B.; Wang, S.; Zhang, J.; Li, H. (2011) "Taxonomy and biology of two seed-parasitic gracillariid moths (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae), with description of a new species." ZooKeys. 83, 43–56
  9. ^ Kawakita, A.; Kato, M. 2009. "Repeated independent evolution of obligate pollination mutualism in the Phyllantheae-Epicephala association." Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 276: 417–426.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Zhang, J., Hu, B., Wang, S. & Li, H. (2012). "Six new species of Epicephala Meyrick, 1880 (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) associated with Phyllanthaceae plants." Zootaxa 3275: 43-54.