Melitara texana Neunzig
Synonymy and Types
Melitara texana Neunzig, 1997, The moths of North America, Pyraloidea, Pyralidae (Part), Fascicle 15.4: 54. Type locality: Carrizo Springs, Texas. Type deposition: Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
Melitara texana is very similar to M. dentata, although it has a shorter average wing span. The male genitalia of texana are more compact with the valva shorter and more rounded, and the vinculum less than ½ as long as its greatest width; in dentata the valva is more elongate, and the vinculum is about as long as its greatest width. Also, the corpus bursae is shorter than the ductus bursae in texana, whereas the corpus bursae is longer than the ductus bursae in dentata (Neunzig, 1997).
This species has a limited distribution occurring only in southern Texas and adjacent Mexico.
Life History and Larval Hosts
Life History: Oviposition occurs from October to early November. Eggs deposited in early October hatch in about ten days, but eggs deposited in late October and November require about a month to hatch. Newly eclosed larvae hollow out a small cell of 1-2 cm under the epidermis near the margin of the cladode. Larvae remain in this cell relatively inactive and small through the winter months. In April some tunneling occurs farther into the cladode, but larval growth remains slow; larvae are only about one-half grown in July. Rapid growth of the larvae occurs during the latter part of July and August. Pupation occurs in late August and September within hollow stems (Mann, 1969). Mann further noted that the habit of small larvae remaining semiquiescent in a cell during the winter, and the selection of larval feeding cavities as pupation sites are behavioral traits unique to this species of Melitara.
Hosts: Opuntia lindheimeri Engelmann var. lindheimeri
Mann (1969), Neunzig (1997)