Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFElachistidae Members: 21 NC Records

Elachista illectella (Clemens, 1860) - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: ElachistidaeSubfamily: ElachistinaeTribe: ElachistiniP3 Number: 421467.00 MONA Number: 1129.00
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: This species was treated as Cosmiotes illectella by Braun (1948) and moved to Elachista by Kaila (1999).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984; as Cosmiotes illectella)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Braun (1948, p. 91, as Cosmiotes illectella)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Braun (1948)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a minute fuscous to black-and-white moth, with the females darker and more boldly marked than the males. A narrow white band is located at the middle of the wing and a broken white band also occurs in the subterminal area (Braun, 1948). Both sexes have a whitish spot at the apex that helps to distinguish them from similar species, and the males have long yellowish white hairs on the last abdominal segments. The following detailed description is based on Braun (1948). The adults are sexually dimorphic, with the females noticeably darker than the males. In both sexes, the head is fuscous and speckled with dark gray, while the face is sometimes paler and more or less silvery. The labial palps are fuscous, but paler and sometimes whitish above, with a black spot at the base of the third segment. The antenna is dark fuscous with narrow paler annulations. The forewing of the male is fuscous overall. The bases of the scales are grayish white and the tips darker, which creates an overall grainy appearance to the wing. Just before the middle there is a slightly oblique, irregular, narrow fascia that is sometimes much reduced and indicated only by a broken line. At two-thirds the wing length, there is a white costal and an opposite dorsal spot that are occasionally obsolete. A few black scales usually separate their apices. The cilia are fuscous and whitish around the apex, while the marginal scales projecting into them are conspicuously black-tipped. The forewing of the female is darker than that of the male and more evenly dark brown or black. When irrorated, it tends to be paler before the fascia, especially in the late fall and early spring generations. The fascia is broad and silvery white, while the dorsal and costal spots are silvery white and never reduced in size. In general, the female has whiter and more boldly contrasting marks than the male. The cilia is fuscous, with white around the apex. The black-tipped marginal scales are white at the base around the apex, and form a more or less conspicuous white transverse mark in the cilia. The hindwing and cilia are fuscous and darker in the female. The legs are gray, and the hind tibia has a white band before the middle and at the apex. The abdomen is fuscous. Elachista irrorata and E. illectella are easily confused. Both males and females of E. irrorata are distinctly black-and white and lack an apical white spot on the forewing. Female E. illectella closely resemble the males and females of E. irrorata, but can be distinguished by the whitish spot at the apex (absent in E. irrorata).
Wingspan: 6-7.5, rarely 8 mm (Braun, 1948)
Adult Structural Features: Male and female reproductive structures are distinctive and are described and illustrated by Braun (1948).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae mine the leaves of a variety of grasses (Braun, 1948). The mine starts as a fine line before gradually increasing in breadth. On hosts with narrow leaves it typically occupies the entire width of the blade. The larva usually consumes the entire parenchyma to produce a full-depth mine. As a result, the mine appears whitish and is about equally visible from either leaf surface. Braun (1948) noted that mining larvae may be found throughout most of the year (even in the winter), and produce adults within a few weeks after being collected. The larvae vary in color depending on the host, but are usually greenish yellow with a brownish transverse bar on the posterior of the prothoracic shield, and lighter horizontal lines located on either side of the midline (Braun, 1948). Pupation takes place beneath a dense, irregular meshwork of white silk (Eiseman, 2019).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Elachista illectella is found in eastern North America, with at least one record from Alberta. The range in the East includes southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec; Newfoundland) and the New England states, to as far west as Illinois and Oklahoma, and as far south as Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Populations appear to be absent from much of the southeastern Coastal Plain. As of 2020, our records are from the Piedmont, and both lower and higher elevations in the mountains.
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: Local populations appear to have two or more generations per year, with most adult records occurring from March through October in different areas of the range. As of 2020, our records extend from March through November, with most from March through June.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The adults can be found in a variety of habitats that range from fields, meadows, and roadsides to forested sites with woodland grasses.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are polyphagous and feed on several genera of grasses (Braun, 1948). The known hosts include Kentucky Blue Grass (Poa pratensis) and other Poa species, Common Timothy (Phleum pratense), and species of Agrostis , Elymus, Oryzopsis and Bromus.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights and the leaf mines can be found by searching grass leaves throughout the year.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [SU]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We currently do not have enough information on the distribution, host plants, or habitat associations of this species to draw any conclusions about its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Elachista illectella - No common name

31 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-05-23
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-20
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-20
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2022-03-02
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2022-03-02
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2022-03-02
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2021-10-02
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2021-10-02
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn on 2021-05-09
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-05-06
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-26
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-03-26
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-03-26
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-02-24
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-02-24
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-02-24
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-11-11
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-11-11
Guilford Co.
Comment: female
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-11-11
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2020-05-17
Wake Co.
Comment: female
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-03-19
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-03-19
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-20
Madison Co.
Comment: male
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-20
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2017-05-02
Stokes Co.
Comment: male
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2017-04-20
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.
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Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2015-06-14
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2014-09-11
Rockingham Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2014-04-01
Wake Co.
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