Distribution New Zealand. The track biogeography of Mnesarchaea species is described by Gibbs (1990).
Systematics Sistergroup to the Hepialoidea (Hepialidae, Anomosetidae, Neotheoridae, Paleosetidae, and Prototheoridae). Mnesarchaea includes seven named species (Dugdale, 1988) and a further seven that are in the process of being described. The moths have functional mothparts. Monophyly is supported by several derived features (Kristensen, 1999). Can be recognized at rest by the divergent erect antenna with slightly upturned tips, together with folded tent-like wings with conspicuous terminal fringe (Gibbs, 1979). Several larval features support a close relationship with Hepialidae (Gibbs, 1979), including the presence of a mat of microtrichia at the base of SD1 & SD2 on the prothorax (Leonard et al., 1992).
Habitat Forest, particularly moist areas of native forest with a rich diversity of plant species. Generally absent from forests modified by logging or the addition of exotic timber species. The periphyton layer (mosses and liverworts) are crucial to the survival of mnesarchaeids (Gibbs, 1979).
Biology Described by Gibbs (1999). Moths are usually found within one meter of the forest floor, most often on or near the ground on ferns or low shrubs. Females deposit eggs on leaves of mosses and liverworts. Larvae of M. acuta live in layers of encrusting mosses and liverworts on rotting logs, tree trunks, and soil. Larvae construct silk galleries, and ingest live and dead moss leaves, liverwort leaves and rhizoids, fern sporangia, fungal spores and hyphae, and filamentous algae. Development of M. acuta is univoltine.
Literature Dugdale, 1988. Lepidoptera - annotated catalogue, and keys to family- group taxa. Fauna of New Zealand 14, 1-262. Gibbs, G.W. 1979. Some notes on the biology and status of the Mnesarchaeidae (Lepidoptera). New Zealand Entomologist 7, 2-9. Gibbs, G.W. 1990.Local or global? Biogeography of some primitive Lepidoptera in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 16, 689-698. Kristensen, N.P. 1999. The homonerous glossata. Pp. 51-63 In Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) ed by Kristensen, N.P. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York. Leonard, J. G., J. R. Grehan, and B. L. Parker. 1992.First instar descriptions of Korscheltellus gracilis (Grote) and Sthenopis auratus (Grote) (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) with a consideration of cladistic relationships between setae. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 100: 594-614.
Prothoracic sensory region of setae SD1 & SD2 (from Leonard et al., 1992).