Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFColeophoridae Members: 8 NC Records

Coleophora mayrella (Hübner, 1813) - Metallic Coleophora Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: ColeophoridaeSubfamily: ColeophorinaeTribe: [Coleophorini]P3 Number: 421646.00 MONA Number: 1387.00
Comments: The genus Coleophora is one of the most taxonomically challenging groups in North America. With only a few exceptions, most species cannot be identified based on photographs or external characters. The shape of the larval cases and host plants are very useful in identifying species, and high-quality dissections of genitalia are essential to recognize the majority of species. There are numerous species complexes with many undescribed species, and the taxonomy of Nearctic species remains largely unresolved.
Species Status: Coleophora mayrella was introduced to the US sometime before the 1860's. It can reach high densities in cultivated White Clover fields in California, where the larvae can caused significant crop losses (Landry and Wright, 1993).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a distinct small moth with an irridescent brownish-green sheen. The antenna is thickened on the basal portion and boldly annulated distally. The resting adults characteristically sit with the front of the body slightly raised, and the antennae projecting forward and frequently appressed together. The following detailed description is based on that of Landry and Wright (1993). The head is silvery with a green olive brown brassy sheen. The post-ocular scales are dark brown, and the labial palp is pale gray on the inner side and olive brown on the outer side. The antenna scape is dark brown with a marked metallic brassy and purplish sheen. The proximal third to half of the flagellum is overlaid with a thick layer of dark brown scales and appears noticeably thickened. The remainder is thin and annulated with alternating dark brown and white flagellomeres. The thorax is metallic brassy green, and the wings olive brown with irridescent metallic brassy or greenish coloration. The legs are olive gray, with a silvery or brassy sheen. Coleophora deauratella is similar in coloration, and in having a thickened antenna base, but the proximal three-quarters or four-fifths of the flagellum is uniformly dark brown and lacks annulations.
Forewing Length: 4.7-6.4 mm for males; 5.0-5.9 mm for females (Landry and Wright, 1993).
Adult Structural Features: Landry and Wright (1993) have detailed descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia, which are distinctive.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on the developing seeds of White Clover. The larval cases are about 5 mm, pale reddish brown, and nearly impossible to discern in withered flower heads. The larvae overwinter in their cases and may wander in the spring when seeking out pupation sites. Populations appear to be univoltine.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Coleophora rnayrella is native to Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East, but has been introduced into New Zealand, North America, and South America. It is widespread throughout North America where it ranges as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Mississippi. As of 2021, our records are all from the Piedmont and Blue Ridge 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: The adults have been documented in North America during most months of the year, with a seasonal peak in May through July. As of 2021, our records are from mid-May through late October.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is dependent on White Clover, which is commonly found in pastures, lawns, roadsides, fields, and other sunny sites that are often mowed or grazed.
Larval Host Plants: White Clover (Trifolium repens) appears to be the only host for this species.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and are active during the day where they nectar, mate, and lay eggs on the heads of White Clover.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SNA
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This is an introduced species that does not merit protection.

 Photo Gallery for Coleophora mayrella - Metallic Coleophora Moth

Photos: 10

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-02
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-10-23
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-10-23
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn on 2020-07-29
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn on 2020-07-29
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger, P. Scharf on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, L. Amos on 2015-05-12
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Jackie Nelson / Doug Blatny on 2012-10-04
Ashe Co.
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