Phereoeca uterella - Household Casebearer Moth / Plaster Bagworm / Traça-de-Parede (Walsingham, 1897)
Lepidoptera: Ditrysia: Tineoidea: Tineidae: Tineinae: Tineini (?)
Pupa stage of this same individual (the pupa is inside the case):
Larval stage of a possible Phereoeca uterella. This is not the same individual as the adult in this post, nor the same individual as the pupa's exuvia one below:
Pupa's exuvia of a possible Phereoeca uterella. Not the same individual as the adult in this post:
This is probably a Phereoeca uterella in pre-pupa or in the pupa stage. This individual is a different individual than ALL individuals portrayed in this post so far:
Date: 10th of June, 2018 at 12:56:05pm.
Location: Brazil, Ceará, Fortaleza (Lat: -3.75, Long: -38.51, 16th floor of a flat)
Phereoeca uterella is a tiny moth in the order Lepidoptera, subdivision Ditrysia, superfamily Tineoidea, family Tineidae, subfamily Tineinae and, doubtfully, according to Insectoid (http://insectoid.info/insecta/lepidoptera/tineidae/tineini/), tribe Tineini.
BugGuide (https://bugguide.net/node/view/27383) mentions that males are less distinctive than females:
"Forewing gray with up to four spots and a brush of long, lighter gray hair-like scales along inner margin of hindwing; males are smaller, thinner, and have a less distinctive wing pattern than females."
With this, I conclude my individual is a male of Phereoeca uterella. They can be found from Southern United States going South as far as Brazil.
BugGuide itself mentions the habitats of these insects:
"Larval cases can be found on wool rugs and wool carpets, hanging on curtains, or under buildings, hanging from subflooring, joists, sills and foundations; also found on exterior of buildings in shaded places, under farm sheds, under lawn furniture, on stored farm machinery, and on tree trunks."
The larvae will feed on old spider webs, hair, debris, wool and silk (including clothes, even though the damage is minimal), felt and many other materials. I do not know how much of the pupa stage's time had passed before I collected, but after the collection, the adult eclosed two days later, which means that, at the very least, the pupa was already 9 days old or more.
The case is made by the larva and measures from 8 to 14mm in length and 3 to 5mm wide. To avoid death and conclude their development, they need humidity, a factor that limits their distribution in many places. Praeceodes atomosella (Tecophora) (Walker, 1863) is a related species of casebearing moths. The eggs are laid by the females on crevices and the junction of walls and floors, cementing them on debris (I believe I have a photographic register of such a case!). Up to two hundred eggs may be oviposited by a single female over a period of a week. This concludes the life-cycle of the female and she dies. The eggs are soft, pale, with a blueish coloring and about 0.4mm in diameter. They take approximately 10 days or more to hatch. The larvae undergo six or seven instars that require about 50 days to mature. The pupa stage lasts between, on average, 11 to 23 days. The whole egg-adult process takes from 62 to 86 days on average. The case is flat, fusiform or spindle-shaped. The insides are silk-lined and open at both ends. This description is taken from Aiello's (1979) description of Phereoeca allutella, a closely-related casebearing moth from Panama. However, it is on point with Phereoeca uterella as could be noted through my many observations. The case is made in the earliest instar. After each instar, the case is enlarged. This is done through the secretion of silk to build an arch that is attached at both ends of the substrate; the whole inside of the arch is lined exclusively by silk and gradually extended to form a tunnel, while the larva stays inside. The tunnel is closed beneath by the larva to form a tube free from the substrate and open at both ends. They can use a wide selection of materials to build the outside of the case such as fibers (such as hair), particles of sand, soil, iron rust, insect droppings, Arthropod remains and many other materials. During the last instars, the case is much more enlarged, which allows the larva to turn around inside and pop out at either end of the case; both ends have openings. Under threat, the larva will close the openings and remain inside; it is incredibly difficult to open the openings from outside, serving them as a great protective mechanism. Later instars of the larvae can reach 7mm in length. They have a dark brown head, while the rest of the body is white with, sometimes, the interiors visible in a red coloring. The lateral and dorsal plates on the three thoracic segments close to the head, though, are hardened and dark. According to Aiello (1979), this is most likely a protection against natural predators when the larva reaches out of the case to move around. The larvae have three pairs of well-developed, brown legs. The ventral prolegs are white and are located on the abdominal segments 3 to 6 and 10. 23 to 25 very small hooks can be found at the tip of each proleg. Anterior hooks are bigger and broader than the posterior ones by one third, potentially serving for identification. These hooks are used to move around inside the case. They are also used to grab the case when the larva pulls its head and thorax out and uses its true legs to walk on the floor or walls. The pupa stage occurs inside the case while the larva fixes it on a vertical surface with silk. One end of the case is modified for this purpose. The larva will cut a short slit along both edges to make that end flatter, acting as a valve. Before eclosing the pupa pulls itself halfway through the valve and the moth emerges around noon with the pupa's exuvia being left partially visible through the case's opening.
Females have a wingspan of 7-13mm, while males have a wingspan of 7-9mm. With this said, males are smaller and thinner than females as noted in BugGuide. Their heads are uniformly clothed with dense and rough hairs. They have two pairs of palps. The maxillary ones are smaller than the labial ones, and are folded inwards. The labial palps extend a little beyond the head's dense covering of hairs. The remaining mouth parts are reduced and adults do not feed. Antennae are filiform, as long as the wings and are held back over the body. The eyes are compound and prominent. Although impossible or semi-impossible to see in live specimens, wing venations are very important for genera identification according to Hinton and Bradley, 1956. They are good fliers, and when resting will hold their wings tented over the body. They usually rest on the webs of Theridiid spiders. The wasp Apanteles carpatus (Brachonidae: Microgastrinae: Microgastrini) is known to parasitize Phereoeca uterella; I believe I even have a register of such occurrence documented in pictures! Another case of parasitism was recorded in which Lymeon orbus (Ichneumonidae) parasitized Phereoeca uterella.
According to BugGuide:
SYNONYMS AND OTHER TAXONOMIC CHANGES:
Phereoeca uterella (Walsingham, 1897)
Tineola uterella (Walsingham, 1897)
Tinea pachyspila (Meyrick, 1905)
Tineola oblitescens (Meyrick, 1924)
Tinea barysticta (Meyrick, 1927)
Tinea dubitatrix (Meyrick, 1932)
Tineola walsinghami (Busck, 1934)
Phereoeca postulata (Gozmány, 1967)
They possess a phylogenetic sequence #300141 and a Hodges Number of 0390. They are also known as "plaster bagworms".
Article on Insetologia with Cesar's identification and research help:
''Phereoeca uterella'' is a species of moth belonging to the family Tineidae. It is commonly known as the plaster bagworm but as the term "bagworm" more properly refers to moths of a different family , it is often called the household casebearer – which may in turn refer to the related ''Phereoeca allutella''. It is found in warm, humid climates throughout the Americas although the exact range is difficult to map as it is easily confused with other case-bearing tineids.
The adult female.. more