Greya piperellaOlle Pellmyr
Wing expanse 16.5-21.5 mm. Forewings white or cream colored in females, rarely with stramineous tinge in females from Alberta, and with gray tinge in males; numerous fine spots scattered over wing, with diameter less than half those of punctiferella, and not coalescing. Rare specimens have many spots lost, and only those in the apical portion are present. Hindwings darker gray.
G. piperella and females of G. mitellae can possibly create problems of identification. Greya punctiferella is a smaller moth with yellow base color and more smeared spots. The female of G. mitellae is much smaller, yellow base color, more rounded forewing shape, and dark brown hindwings.
The species feeds on Heuchera cylindrica in the north, and on H. micrantha in California (Saxifragaceae). Eggs are laid in the peduncle of the host, and larvae mine in it. Nothing in known about later instars.
Dry interior portions of southern British Columbia to central Oregon, reaching westward to western Montana. An isolated population is known from central California. Specimens from New Mexico and Utah have tentatively been identifed as this species.
In open, grassy pine forest or on rockfaces in open country where the host is found growing in crevices and ledges. Elevational range 200-2300 m. It often coexists with G. enchrysa and G. politella.
Greya piperella drinks nectar from the flowers of its host, but there is no evidence for pollination function in the species (Pellmyr et al. 1996).
Further ecological aspects of G. piperella and the species that it interacts with are currently under study by and at Washington State University.
In a phylogenetic analysis of a portion of mitochondrial DNA, G. mitellae was nested within Greya piperella (Brown et al. 1994). It is evident that speciation of G. mitellae has occurred so recently that the mitochondrial lineages have not yet been assorted. Greya mitellae reflects a concurrent habitat and host shift, and it has undergone striking morphological evolution particularly in the male.
Brown, J.M., O. Pellmyr, J.N. Thompson & R.G. Harrison. 1994. Phylogeny of Greya (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae), based on nucleotide sequence variation in mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I and II: congruence with morphological data. Mol. Biol. Evol. 11:128-141.
Davis, D.R., O. Pellmyr & J.N. Thompson. 1992. Biology and systematics of Greya Busck and Tetragma n. gen. (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae). Smiths. Contrib. Zool. 524:1-88.
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Pellmyr, Olle. 1996. Greya piperella http://tolweb.org/Greya_piperella/12318/1996.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 01 January 1996 (under construction).