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Phestilla
cf. minor
Rudman, 1981
 
Phestilla cf. minor
Maximum size:  about 7 mm.

Identification:  This aeolid is translucent white to cream, with some opaque white on the head and notum. The cerata can have up to three swellings: the basal is small, the medial large and the apical intermediate in size giving the tips a bulbous appearance. The rhinophores are smooth and translucent white or cream.

Natural history:  Phestilla cf. minor is a rare species that feeds on corals of the genus Porites under which it typically hides during the day. Faucci, et. al. (2007) report it feeding on Porites compressa in Kane'ohe Bay, Oahu. Unlike most other aeolids, Phestilla spp. do not possess cnidosacs at the tips of their cerata for storing defensive nematocysts. This is presumably because of the small size and, therefore, weakness of the coral's nematocysts. It has lecithotrophic larvae. (Faucci, et. all, 2007)

Distribution:  Big Island and Oahu: related forms are widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific.

Taxonomic notes:  Faucci, et. al. (2007) suggest that Phestilla minor may be part of a cryptic species complex based on molecular evidence. It was first recorded in Hawaii from the Big Island by Larry Harris.

Photo:  Larry Harris: Big Island.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  ( )
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