Description, molecular phylogeny, and natural history of a new kleptoparasitic species of gelechiid moth (Lepidoptera) associated with Melastomataceae galls in Brazil

<div><p>The male, female, pupa and larva of a new species of Gelechiidae (Lepidoptera), <i>Locharcha opportuna</i> Moreira and Becker, are described and illustrated with the aid of optical and scanning electron microscopy. A preliminary analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences including members of related lineages is also provided. The immature stages are associated with galls induced by a species of <i>Palaeomystella</i> Fletcher (Lepidoptera: Momphidae) on <i>Tibouchina sellowiana</i> (Cham.) Cogn. (Melastomataceae), endemic to the Atlantic Rainforest. Larvae are kleptoparasitic, usurping the gall internal space and thereafter feeding on the internal tissues. By determining the variation in population density of both species and following gall development individually throughout ontogeny under field conditions, we demonstrated that the kleptoparasite completes its life cycle inside galls induced by <i>Palaeomystella</i>, where pupation occurs. The variation in seasonal abundance of the kleptoparasite is tied to that of the cecidogenous species, with their corresponding peaks in density occurring sequentially.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p></div>