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How to use these pages

Purpose

The main purpose of LBAM ID is to assist identifiers in determining if an adult or larval Lepidopteran specimen is Epiphyas postvittana (light brown apple moth). Unlike traditional keys, the resource is not designed to identify every specimen encountered, but rather to reliably eliminate LBAM as a possibility when examining non-target taxa or to positively confirm LBAM or the possibility of LBAM when examining target specimens. It may not be possible to positively confirm the identity of LBAM larvae or to separate LBAM larvae from other non-targets without DNA sequencing. A molecular search tool is provided to allow identifiers with sequencing ability to positively confirm LBAM larvae using a DNA barcode sequence.

LBAM ID is designed for use by identifiers performing LBAM surveys within California. Although much of the information can be applied in other areas of the country, identification characters used in the resource are specific to California taxa, and these may lead to ambiguous or misleading results when used outside of this context. LBAM ID is not designed as a general resource for identifying all California tortricid species.

Please visit About these pages for more information regarding key development.

Non-target taxa

Non-target taxa covered in this resource include those tortricids that are commonly encountered during LBAM surveys or those that may be confused with LBAM. All of the species presented in the fact sheets and keys occur in California or have been intercepted at California ports of entry. These include three of the most common economically important California tortricids:

  • Argyrotaenia franciscana (orange tortrix/OT)
  • Choristoneura rosaceana (oblique banded leaf roller/OBLR)
  • Platynota stultana (omnivorous leafroller/OL)

In addition, the following taxa are covered in detailed fact sheets:

  • Acleris hastiana
  • Acleris robinsonana
  • Acleris senescens
  • Acleris variegana
  • Amorbia cuneana
  • Amorbia emigratella
  • Archips argyrospila
  • Clepsis clemensiana
  • Clepsis fucana
  • Clepsis peritana
  • Clepsis persicana
  • Clepsis virescana
  • Cnephasia longana
  • Decodes basiplagana
  • Decodes fragariana
  • Henricus umbrabasana
  • Pandemis pyrusana
  • Sparganothis senecionana
  • Sparganothis tunicana

These taxa, along with various other genera and species are included in the keys. Taxon inclusion in a particular key is based on available information, specimens, or usefulness in the key.

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Key content and instructions

LBAM ID includes four separate Lucid keys. Keys to families and tortricid genera/species are provided for both adults and larvae. The keys can be used in any order, although in most cases the tortricid keys do not include other families. Details for using each key are provided below. For information on using the Lucid3 Player please view the help files for the player, which can be accessed in the player or on the Information & links page.

Lepidoptera Family Adult Key

A family adult key is provided to assist identifiers in determining the family for a particular specimen. Twenty four families of commonly encountered or easily identified Lepidoptera are included. Users can begin with any feature, although those of the head (labial palpi and proboscis) are a useful place to start. A quick summary of each family is provided by clicking on the fact sheet next to the family name. If attempting to diagnose potential LBAM specimens, the Tortricid Adult Key should be used if Tortricidae is in the list of remaining entities after completing the key. The family adult key can be accessed here: Lepidoptera Family Adult Key.

A page of identification photos separate from the key is also provided. The photos show a life-sized representative of each family, and clicking on a particular specimen will access a quick summary of the family. The family identification photos can be accessed here: Adult Family ID plate.

Lepidoptera Family Larval Key

The family larval key can be used to determine the family for a larval specimen. Only eight families are included in the key; these represent groups which are most likely to be encountered in habitats similar to where LBAM occurs in California. A generalized entity named "Other Families" represents feature combinations found in other Lepidoptera not included in the key. Users can begin with any feature, although choosing the number of setae on the prothoracic prespiracular pinaculum is a good place to start as it will separate Tortricidae from the macrolepidoptera. A quick summary of each family is provided by clicking on the fact sheet next to the family name. If attempting to diagnose potential LBAM specimens, the Tortricid Larval Key should be used if Tortricidae is in the list of remaining entities after completing the key. The family larval key can be accessed here: Lepidoptera Family Larval Key.

Tortricid Adult Key

The tortricid adult key is designed to assist identifiers who have already determined that their adult specimen is a tortricid, either by using the Lepidoptera family adult key or through prior knowledge. The key includes 25 taxa, 23 of which are Tortricinae species and two of which represent the Olethreutinae and other Tortricinae not included at the species level. The sex of the specimen must be selected before other features appear in the key. Choosing a male specimen will reveal general features plus those applicable only to males; choosing a female specimen will reveal general features plus those that are applicable to females. If the sex of the specimen cannot be determined, choosing sex unknown will reveal general features, but any features related to gender will remain hidden. Features can be selected in any order after determining the sex of the specimen.

The identifier is successful when either LBAM has been discarded (regardless of remaining entities) or if the key is completed and only LBAM is left in the entities remaining. Many of the taxa in the key need a genitalic dissection in order to be confirmed, and wing pattern alone is usually not sufficient to provide a positive identification. The identifier should consult the fact sheets for any remaining entities (next to the species name) to determine if the description of the species is consistent with the specimen being examined. Positive LBAM identifications may need to be sent to an expert for verification. The tortricid adult key can be accessed here: Tortricidae Adult Key.

Tortricid Larval Key

The tortricid larval key is designed to assist identifiers who have already determined that their larval specimen is a tortricid, either by using the Lepidoptera family larval key or through prior knowlege. The key contains 29 taxa, including Tortricinae and Olethreutinae species, genera, and "types" (groups based on similar larval morphology). Most features and states are applicable only to late or last instar Tortricidae. Several features, such as prothoracic shield, leg, and head color or markings vary extensively on early instar specimens and are not useful. Mandible morphology has also been found to vary extensively in early instars, and it is possible that many of the setal features are not easily examined on very small larvae. To account for early instar larvae the key requires users to choose the size of the specimen before other features are revealed. Choosing a specimen with a length of 8mm or less will keep many of the features hidden. Choosing a specimen with a length of more than 8mm will allow access to features that are only applicable to late or last instars. A length of 8mm is used as this appears to be the lower limit for mature LBAM larvae.

After determining the size of the specimen other features can be choosen in any order. Users unfamiliar with Lepidoptera larvae should read the section below on tips for examining larvae. The identifier is successful when either LBAM has been discarded (regardless of remaining entities) or if the key is completed and only LBAM is left in the entities remaining. Some of the taxa in the key may be impossible to separate from LBAM and a DNA analysis will be required for positive identification. The identifier should consult the fact sheets for any remaining entities (next to the species name) to determine if the description of the species is consistent with the specimen being examined. DNA sequences may be verified using the DNA search tool (see below). The tortricid larval key can be accessed here: Tortricidae Larval Key.

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Tips for examining larvae

Identifiers unfamiliar with tortricid larvae should consult MacKay (1959, 1962), Brown (1987), and Gilligan et al. (2008) for an overview of larval morphology and techniques. Larval characters tend to vary extensively, even in the same species, both between instars and in the same instar. Most of the characters included in LBAM ID are based on late or last instar larvae, and early instars of many species may be impossible to identify. When examining pinacula and setal number, be sure to look at both sides of the larva, as some specimens are asymmetrical. When an asymmetrical individual is found, use the highest number of setae when using the keys. Preservation of larvae can also obscure characters, and even freshly preserved specimens may discolor and make many of the color or pattern characters in the keys useless. It is also possible for pieces to break off specimens preserved in alcohol, and occasionally setae or the anal comb may be missing because of breakage. Any determination made with the tortricid larval key should be checked by an expert, and molecular analysis may be required to confirm identity in many cases.

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DNA search tool

This DNA sequence search tool is designed to assist users in verifying the identity of Epiphyas postvittana specimens. The tool searches for an exact match between the input sequence and the reference database, which contains 24 different LBAM haplotypes from around the world. Each haplotype consists of a 657bp sequence of the Folmer region of COI, commonly known as the DNA barcode region. The search tool assumes that the input sequence was generated using primers designed to amplify the COI barcode region and that the sequence has been properly trimmed and the primer sequences removed. A sequence that contains primers or is too long will not return a match regardless of the specimen identity. Input sequences must be verified to be of sufficient length, to be free of primers, and to not contain excessive ambiguous data. A "Verify Sequence" button allows users to check for problems in the DNA sequence before submitting it to the database.

The search tool will return the name and description of haplotype(s) if a match is found. A message that the sequence is consistent with one more haplotypes means that the input sequence exactly matches one of the reference sequences. This information can be used to assist with specimen identity; however, it is possible that different species share identical barcode region sequences and information obtained from the search tool should be used with caution. A message that the sequence is not consistent with any haplotypes in the database means that the input sequence does not exactly match any of the reference sequences. This could be due to errors in the input sequence, a failure to sample all haplotypes of a particular species, or differences in species identity, and this information should be used with caution.

NOTE: The DNA search tool is not compatible with versions 2, 3, or 4 of the Safari web browser.

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