Color Pattern on the Forewing of Micropterix (Lepidoptera: Micropterigidae): Insights into the Evolution of Wing Pattern and Wing Venation in Moths

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 5;10(10):e0139972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139972. eCollection 2015.


Wing patterns are key taxonomic characters that have long been used in descriptions of Lepidoptera; however, wing pattern homologies are not understood among different moth lineages. Here, we examine the relationship between wing venation and wing pattern in the genus Micropterix, among the most basal extant Lepidoptera, in order to evaluate the two existing predictive models that have the potential to establish wing pattern element homologies for the order. The location of wing pattern elements along the costal margin of the wing in Micropterix is consistent with the predictions of the model proposed for Tortricidae by Brown and Powell in 1991, later modified by Baixeras in 2002. The predictive power of this model for such distantly related taxa suggests that the model may hold across various superfamilies within Lepidoptera, and supports the long-held notion that fasciae, not spots, are the most likely primitive wing pattern elements for the order. In addition, the location of wing pattern elements suggests that the wing vein commonly termed Sc1 may in fact be a different vein, which Comstock identified in Trichoptera and referred to as "a."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Color*
  • Moths / physiology*
  • Wings, Animal / blood supply
  • Wings, Animal / physiology*

Grant support

The research was supported in part by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (, United States Department of Agriculture (, under project MIS-012040. SRS is supported by the National Science Foundation ( Graduate Research Fellowship Program ( under Grant No. DGE-1125191. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.