Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFMomphidae Members: 3 NC Records

Mompha annulata (Braun, 1923) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: MomphidaeSubfamily: MomphinaeP3 Number: 421814.00 MONA Number: 1425.00
Comments: The genus Mompha consists of around 46 described species in North America. In addition, numerous species remain to be described that are centered in the southwestern US (Bruzzese et al., 2019). The adults are small moths that have two or more tufts of raised scales on each forewing. The larvae either mine leaves, or bore into the stems, flower buds, flowers, or fruits of their hosts. The majority of species feed on members of the Onagraceae, but others feed on species in the Cistaceae, Lythraceae, Melastomataceae, and Rubiaceae.
Species Status: Mompha annulata is a member of a group of several small "black and white" Mompha species that occur in North America, many of which remain undescribed ( This species was previously known only from Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio before Tracy Feldman discovered a specimen in Wake Co., North Carolina in 2018 that was mining the leaves of Summer Bluet (Houstonia purpurea).
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: BugGuide; MPGTechnical Description, Adults: Braun, 1923                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Braun (1923) described Mompha annulata based on two specimens that she collected in Ohio. The following is based on her description. The labial palp is silvery white inwardly and fuscous outwardly, with two black rings around the third segment. The antenna is fuscous above in the basal half and black in the outer half, with the tip white. Before the tip, there are five white segments that are separated each from the next by two black segments. The face is silvery, but shades darker on the head, which varies from gray metallic to almost black. The thorax and forewing are black. An oblique silvery bar at the basal fourth reaches the fold. Just beyond and a little below the fold there is a patch of black raised scales. At the apical third there is a slightly inwardly oblique silvery fascia, with the scales near the dorsal margin forming a raised patch. A line of silvery scales is present from just before the tip of wing around the apex to the tornus. There are two parallel rows of black-tipped scales in the cilia, and the hindwing and cilia are gray. The legs are black, with the tips of the segments and a median band on the tibia silvery. The abdomen is fuscous above, with the posterior margins of the segments silvery. Terry Harrison (BugGuide) noted that M. annulata is similar to M. argentimaculella but differs in lacking a yellow patch on the costa of the forewing just basal to the apical scale tuft (a yellow patch is present on M. argentimaculella). In addition, the antennal flagellum is prominently ringed with white in M. annulata versus being largely dark or entirely black in M. argentimaculella.
Wingspan: 7 mm (Braun, 1923).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The host plant(s) were unknown until Tracy Feldman recently discovered larvae mining a Summer Bluet (Houstonia purpurea) in Wake County. The larva produces a somewhat convoluted mine that contains a diffuse frass trail. The larva observed by Tracy Feldman made at least two mines on separate leaves before pupating.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Mompha annulata is a rarely encountered species that was previously known only from Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The population that was recently discovered in Wake County (specimen verified by Terry Harrison) appears to be a major disjunct from the main range of the species.
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
Immature 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: Very little data is available on the flight season, but records suggest that the adults are active during the late-spring and summer months. An unoccupied mine was found in mid-May and an occupied mine in mid-July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Houstonia purpurea is the only known host species. This species is common in the Piedmont and mountains where it occurs in dry to moist forests, as well as a variety of disturbed habitats such as the edges of roadways and along woodland trails.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae have been found feeding on Houstonia purpurea in North Carolina. The leaf mines found by Tracy Feldman in 2018 appear to represent the first known host plant record for this species.
Observation Methods: Attempts should be made to locate leaf mines on Houstonia purpurea during the summer months.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: [GNR] SU
State Protection:
Comments: Mompha annulata appears to be rare in the eastern US based on the scarcity of records on MPG, BugGuide, BAMONA, and BOLD. Although we currently have only one record for North Carolina, more information is needed before we can accurately assess the conservation status of this species within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Mompha annulata - No common name

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman and Charley Eiseman on 2018-08-09
Wake Co.
Comment: An adult that emerged from leaf mine from 2018-07-22 (see companion photo). Photo by Charley Eiseman.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-07-22
Wake Co.
Comment: An occupied blotch mine with a diffuse frass trail on Houstonia purpurea. The larva made at least two mines on separate leaves before pupating. The adult that was reared (see companion photo from 2018-08-09) was the first host record for this species.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-07-22
Wake Co.