Moths of North Carolina
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7 NC Records

Mompha murtfeldtella (Chambers, 1875) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: MomphidaeSubfamily: MomphinaeTribe: [Momphini]P3 Number: 421841.00 MONA Number: 1448.00
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.
Field Guide Descriptions: Leckie and Beadle (2018)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Immature Stages: Chambers (1879)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is based in part on the description by Chambers (1875b). The head and thorax are silvery white and the antenna brown. The labial palp is silvery white, with the second joint brown on the outer surface, and the third dusted with brown beneath. The forewing ground color is brown, and faintly streaked or marbled with ocherous and whitish scales. At the base of the forewing, there is a broad, silvery white bar that extends from the inner margin before terminating just before the costa. This, together with the thorax, produces a large white, oval region. Along the inner margin at about one-half the wing length, there is a whitish scale tuft that is partly grizzled by brown scales. The tuft extends inwardly and becomes fragmented into smaller elements. A second whitish or pale tuft is present in the PM area. Both tufts are weakly margined posteriorly with brownish black scales. At about four-fifths, there is a thin, longitudinal, black dash near the middle of the wing, along with a white spot on the costa below the dash. The remainder of the wing is very coarsely mottled with light brown and darker brown regions. The hindwing is brown and the cilia on both wings grayish brown. The legs are brownish with pale to whitish regions near the joints.
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on the developing flowers of evening-primroses. The eggs are laid singly on the sticky surfaces of the calyx and the hatchlings bore to the center of the bud and feed on petals and stamens. The young larvae are dull, brownish green and gradually assume a reddish tint. When fully grown, the sides of the larva are a deep dull pink, with the color organized into wavy shaded stripes that are more intense on the subdorsal spaces (Murtfeldt; as cited in Chambers, 1879). The head is pale glossy grayish brown and the thoracic shield dark grayish brown with a narrow but distinct longitudinal line of white. Pupation occurs in a dense, tough yellowish cocoon on the surface of the ground and the adults emerge in about ten days. Murtfeldt reported that there are at least two distinct broods in a season, and that the last overwinters in cocoons.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Mompha murtfeldtella is widely distributed across North America. In the West, it occurs from British Columbia, Alberta, California, Arizona, and Colorado. In the East, it is found in southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec; Newfoundland) and the eastern US from Maine southward to Florida, and westward to central Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Minnesota. As of 2022, we have only seven records from two counties in the eastern Piedmont and Sandhills.
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: This wide-ranging species has been found nearly year-round, with a peak in seasonal activity in May through August. As of 2021, our two records are from late May and early June.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae feed on evening-primroses, but the specific hosts and habitat requirements in North Carolina are undocumented.
Larval Host Plants: Murtfeldt (as cited in Chambers, 1879) noted that the larvae feed on both cultivated and wild species of Oenothera, particularly Missouri Evening-primrose (O. macrocarpa). This species does not occur in North Carolina, where other Oenothera are undoubtedly used.
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights. We also recommend inspecting the flowers and developing buds of native Oenothera species and rearing the adults in order to better document host use within the state.
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: As of 2022, we have only two county records for North Carolina. We are uncertain if this represents true rarity, or undercollecting.

 Photo Gallery for Mompha murtfeldtella - No common name

Photos: 7

Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2022-08-28
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-09
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2015-08-29
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2015-07-24
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2015-07-24
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2012-05-29
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2012-05-29
Wake Co.