Moths of North Carolina
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1 NC Records

Elachista subalbidella Schläger, 1847 - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: ElachistidaeP3 Number: 421363.00 MONA Number: 1098.10
Comments: Elachista is a large genus of small moths that occur worldwide. Around 135 Nearctic species are currently recognized. They specialize on monocots and most feed on either grasses (Poaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae).
Species Status: Elachista subalbidella is a Holarctic species that is found in Europe, Asia, and North America. Braun (1948) described the North American populations as a new species, E. hiberna, but treatments today do not recognize E. hiberna as a distinct species based on the work of Kaila (1999). BOLD shows two BINS for Elachista subalbidella, with the North American forms different from the Old World forms. These forms also differ in terms of color morphs, suggesting that Braun's E. hiberna could at some point be resurrected as a valid species.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Braun (1948)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Braun (1948)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is the only known American species that has a median fascia and no other marks on the forewing. The following detailed description is based on Braun's (1948) description of E. hiberna. The face is yellowish white, while the head varies from yellowish white to pale gray and becomes darker posteriorly. The palps are white above and inwardly, and the second segment is dark fuscous outwardly except for the tip. The third segment has a little fuscous shading outwardly near the tip. The antenna is blackish fuscous in the basal half and paler in the outer half. The annulations are narrow and scarcely paler in the basal half, but more contrasting in the outer half. The antennal pecten has 10 or 11 long and short hairs. The thorax and forewing is dark blackish brown and slightly irrorate. There is a single median white fascia that usually is a little wider on the dorsum, and a row of black scales that projects into the cilia at the apex and along the termen. The tips of the cilia are often white opposite the apex, but grayish towards the tornus. In the female, the whitish area extends half-way along the termen. The hindwing is brownish gray and darker in the male. The legs are dark blackish brown with the extreme tips of the segments whitish, while the posterior tibia is white inwardly. The abdomen is dark fuscous above and paler beneath. In addition to the form described above, populations in Eurasia have a second color morph which has uniform yellowish-ocherous forewings and no fascia.
Wingspan: 9-12 mm (Braun, 1948)
Adult Structural Features: Braun (1948) provides descriptions and illustrations of the genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Braun (1948) conducted detailed studies of the larval life history in Ohio, where the larvae feed on Eastern Beakgrain (Diarrhena americana). The following is a summary of her work. Females lay eggs on the underside of the stem soon after emerging in May and June. The eggs are often laid in pairs, with one egg on each side of the midrib. The hatchling initially makes a short thread-like mine about 1.3 cm in length. It then enters a long resting period during which time the early mine turns brown. Feeding is resumed in early October, and the larvae become full grown by late November or early December. The mine usually extends toward the tip of the leaf, but sometimes doubles back on itself. It is usually confined to one-half of the leaf blade, with its length varying from 15-20 cm. From the place where the larva is feeding at any time, there is a faintly outlined tubular runway that is lightly silk-lined, and that extends back to the early part of the mine where the frass is packed. The parenchyma is consumed, and the mine is about equally visible from either surface. The larva hibernates near the beginning of the tubular runway, which is more densely silk-lined. Pupation takes place outside the mine in early spring (March). The pupa is attached by the anal end and a silken girdle, with a few lose strands of silk above it. The nearly full grown larva is dull olive green. The prothoracic shield is yellowish brown with a brown broadly anchor-shaped mark that is divided by a paler line. The setae are minute.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Elachista subalbidella is a Holarctic species that is found in Europe, Asia, and North America. In North America, this species is broadly distributed across southern Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. In the US, populations are known from Pennsylvania Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and North Carolina, and farther west in California and South Dakota.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Populations are univoltine and the adults have been observed from March through August in different areas of the range. Most records are from June and July. Our one record in from early October.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The habitats that this species uses in the US are poorly documented.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae feed on grasses and sedges. Braun (1948) found larvae on Eastern Beakgrain (Diarrhena americana) in Ohio. Wikipedia lists several other taxa that are used by this wide-ranging, Holarctic species. These include Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea), Oatgrass (Arrhenatherum species), Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum), False-brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Bunch Grass (Calamagrostis arundinacea), Melic Grass (Melica spp.), Meadow-grass (Poa spp.), and sedges (Carex spp.).
Observation Methods: The adults appear to only rarely visit lights, and have been successfully reared from the host plants.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: We currently do not have sufficient information on the distribution and abundance of this species to assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Elachista subalbidella - No common name

Photos: 1

Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2014-10-03
Wake Co.