Kyhl Austin

Graduate Researcher

 Contact Info 
Office: Gilmore 607
E-mail: kaaustin [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the taxonomy and systematics of Lepidoptera, especially the economically important family Tortricidae, commonly known as leaf-roller moths. In addition to their systematics, I am also interested in understanding broader biogeographical patterns and host plant associations, particularly on island ecosystems. Much of my research is collection-based and I am extremely passionate about collection management and curation.

Research Overview

In the Rubinoff Lab, I am working to resolve the taxonomy and systematics of the native Hawaiian tortricid fauna. The Hawaiian islands possess several enigmatic and endemic tortricid genera, for which very little is known. Several genera and countless species await description. I am also working collaboratively with several other researchers at other institutions to develop molecular tools to rapidly identify pest tortricids of potential economic and agricultural importance. As part of this collaborative project, I am leading the update of the Tortricids of Agricultural Importance (TortsAI) website and developing interactive keys for identification purposes. Finally, I am working as part of the Terrestrial Parasite Tracker (TPT) project to digitize portions of the University of Hawaii Insect Museum (UHIM).


B.S. in Biology, Davidson College (2018)
M.S. in Entomology, Cornell University (2020)

Previous Research

June 2018-May 2020 (Cornell University):
M.S. thesis: “A taxonomic revision of the Archipini of the Caribbean (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)."

  • Generic assignment of Neotropical Archipini and Atteriini orphan taxa (Tortricidae).
  • Overseeing the digitization project of the Franclemont genitalia slide collection (8000 slides and associated specimens).
  • Overseeing the curation of the macrolepidoptera in the Cornell University Insect Collection (CUIC) including personal curation of the entire families Euteliidae, Nolidae, and Noctuidae, as well as several subfamilies of Erebidae (~2,500 drawers worth of specimens).


  • 2016: William H. Cross Expedition, Rabun County, GA
  • 2016-2018: Davidson College Ecological Preserve, Davidson, NC
  • 2017: William H. Cross Expedition, Polk County, AR
  • 2017: Cactus caterpillar collecting trip, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona
  • 2018: Lepidoptera Surveys, Audubon Community Nature Center, Chautauqua County, NY
  • 2019: Martinique, Guadeloupe, California, Maine
  • 2020: All over the US (solo summer road trip)
  • 2021: Hawaiʻi (x3), Kauaʻi (x2), Molokaʻi (x1)
  • 2022: Hawaiʻi (x2), Kauaʻi (x3), Maui (x2)
  • 2023: Hawaiʻi (x3), Kauaʻi (x1)


Austin, K.A., Dombroskie, J.J. “A novel sexual coupling mechanism in Claduncaria (Tortricidae: Tortricinae: Archipini)”. Presented at: North American Microlepidopterists' 4th Annual Meeting; July 8, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA. Original research presentation.

Austin, K.A., Dombroskie, J.J. “Systematics and biogeography of Caribbean Archipini (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)”. Presented at: The Lepidopterists’ Society 68th Annual Meeting; July 9-12, 2019; Davis, CA, USA. Original research presentation.

Eagle Hill Institute, Co-Instructor: "Microlepidoptera: Collection, Preparation, Dissection, Identification, and Natural History" August 4–10, 2019 w/ Jason Dombroskie.

Austin, K.A., Rubinoff, D. "Tortricidae: the most successful family of terrestrial animal life in Hawaiʻi?" Presented at: The 23rd European Congress of Lepidopterology & 11th Forum Herbulot: Conservation, Ecology and Systematics of Lepidoptera in a changing world; September 25-29, 2023; Orléans, France. Original research presentation.


Austin, K.A.; Nazari, V.; Landry, J.-F.; Johnson, S.R. 2017. “Lepidotarphius perornatella (Walker, 1864) (Lepidoptera: Glyphipterigidae) new to North America.” News of the Lepidopterists' Society, 59(4): 182-184.

Austin, K.A.; Dombroskie, J.J.; Matthews, D.L.; Miller, J.Y. 2019. A review of the Archipini of The Bahamas with the description of a new species of Argyrotaenia Stephens (Tortricidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society, 73(1): 5–17.

Grehan J.R., Mielke C.G.C., Ignatyev N., De Groof B., Austin K., Witt T.J. 2019. Three new species of Endoclita C. &. R. Felder, 1874 from northern Laos and Thailand (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Entomofauna, 40(2): 273–298.

Austin, K. A., Dombroskie, J.J. 2020. New Combinations in Neotropical Archipini and Atteriini (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae: Tortricinae), with the Description of a New Genus. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 122(1): 1–11.

Eiseman, C.S., Austin, K.A., Blyth, J.A., Feldman, T.S. 2020. New records of leaf-mining Tortricidae (Lepidoptera) in North America, with the description of a new species of Grapholita. Zootaxa, 4748(3): 514–530.

Austin, K.A., Dombroskie, J.J. 2020. A taxonomic revision of the Archipini of the Caribbean (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae, Tortricinae). ZooKeys, 982: 33-147.

Doorenweerd, C., Austin, K.A., Rubinoff, D. 2021. First Confirmed Record of Leaf Mining in the Fruitworm Moths (Carposinidae): A New Species Feeding on an Endemic Hawaiian Clermontia (Campanulaceae). Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society, 53:11-19.

Austin, K.A., Rubinoff, D. 2022. Eleven new records of Lepidoptera in the Hawaiian Islands including corrections to the Hawaii Terrestrial Arthropod Checklist. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, 142: 49–74.

Austin, K.A., Rubinoff, D. 2023a. New records of Lepidoptera in the Hawaiian Islands for the year 2022. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, 148: 175–184.

Austin, K.A., Rubinoff, D. 2023b. Rediscoveries and presumed extinctions of Hawaiian leaf-roller moths (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society, 55: 11–27.

Doorenweerd, C., Austin, K.A., Rubinoff, D. 2023. Five new species of Hawaiian endemic fancy case caterpillars from a recently established forest reserve on Maui (Cosmopterigidae: Hyposmocoma). Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society, 55: 29–44.

Austin, K.A., Rubinoff, D. 2023c. Seven new species of Hawaiian leaf-roller moths (Tortricidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society, 77(2): 73–89.