I am studying the diversification of a group of tiny moths called Mompha, a genus within the family Momphidae. Mompha are moths with a ~2.5 to 8 mm forewing length, narrow-tufted forewings, and cryptic coloration. The only way to accurately identify these moths to species are intensive genitalia dissections. There are roughly 40 described species of Mompha found in the United States with many species still unsubscribed because of the difficulty in their identification. Using molecular barcoding I can avoid complex genitalia dissections. I hope to survey the diversity of Mompha associated with Oenothera, identify new putative species, and patterns of host plant mediated evolution.
A picture of a Mompha larvae found in the fruit of an evening primrose
Photo Credit: Rick Overson landscapes of linalool flickr
An example of an adult Mompha