Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFMomphidae Members: 16 NC Records

Mompha stellella Busck, 1906 - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: MomphidaeSubfamily: MomphinaeP3 Number: 421852.00 MONA Number: 1455.00
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.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: (Busck, 1906)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Microleps.org                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based primarily on the original description by Busck (1906). The antenna is uniformly dark brown. The labial palp is whitish ocherous with scattered black scales, and have a black annulation just before the tip of the terminal joint. The face is silvery white, and the head and thorax are light ocherous. The forewing is light ocherous and mottled with brown and black scales. The costal edge is mottled with black, and the entire apical part of the wing is sprinkled with sparse black scales. There are two oblique, ill-defined and indistinct shades of light brown stretching across the wing, one from near the base, and the other from the middle of the costa. There are six tufts of raised ocherous scales in two longitudinal rows, one through the middle of the wing, and the other below the fold. The central tuft is the largest of them. A conspicuous elongated patch of black scales is present on the inner margin that begins just beyond the middle tuft of raised scales. The abdomen is ocherous, and the legs are ocherous with black mottling. Individuals from a population in Wake Co. are deviant in having rather uniformly light brown banding between the tufts and a reduced black patch on the inner margin. We are currently treating these as being conspecific.
Wingspan: 11-12 mm (Busck, 1906).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae are specialized borers in the flowers of Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis). Females lay eggs on the developing flower buds or surrounding leaves. The hatchlings initially feed on the outside tissue, then bore inward and consume the style, stigma, stamens and the inner folded parts of the petals (Dickerson and Weiss, 1920). This causes the flower to become distorted, and to have an exceptionally short and wide pedicel and ovary base. The petals often do not develop fully or open. When full grown, the larva cuts a small round hole in one side of the bud, crawls out, and drops to the ground where it constructs an elongate, white cocoon, either on top of or slightly beneath the surface. Particles of soil and debris are fastened to the outer surface so that the cocoon is effectively hidden. The early instar larvae are rather nondescript with faint whitish tan coloration. The later instars develop pinkish brown coloration. The anterior part of each body segment is darker and more boldly colored than the posterior section, which results in a somewhat banded appearance. Pupation occurs in mid to late summer. The adults emerge shortly thereafter, although part of the brood may overwinter in the cocoons.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Mompha stellella is found in eastern North America in southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec) and the eastern US. Local populations are most common in the northeastern US and become more scattered farther west and south. This species ranges as far west as Missouri and as far south as Florida. In North Carolina, our records as of 2020 are from the lower mountains and Piedmont.
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: Local populations appear to be univoltine and oviposit when the host plant come into bloom, typically from late July through early September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Mompha stellella appears to be monophagous on Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis), which is an early successional species that exploits open, disturbed habitats. Typical habitats include roadsides, construction sites, agricultural fields and edges, and powerline corridors.
Larval Host Plants: Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis) is the only known host.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights. We recommend searching for the distorted flowers on Evening-primroses and rearing the adults.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: This species was only recently documented in the state and may be more common than previously thought based on our recent success in locating populations based on the presence of distorted Oenothera flowers.

 Photo Gallery for Mompha stellella - No common name

Photos: 16

Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-11-10
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-09
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-24
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a distorted flower on Oenothera biennis. The mine was collected on Aug. 25; the adult emerged on Sept 24.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-24
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a distorted flower on Oenothera biennis. The mine was collected on Aug. 25; the adult emerged on Sept 24.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-19
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a distorted flower on Oenothera biennis. The mine was collected on Aug. 25; the adult emerged on Sept 19.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-19
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a distorted flower on Oenothera biennis. mine collected on Aug. 25; adult emerged on Sept 19.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-30
Buncombe Co.
Comment: Flower buds of Oenothera biennis with short, swollen pedicels.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-25
Buncombe Co.
Comment: Flower buds of Oenothera biennis with short, swollen pedicels that contained larvae.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-25
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of a flower buds of Oenothera biennis with short, swollen pedicels that indicate that a boring larva is inside each bud. Note the normal flower at the top with an elongated, thin pedicel.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-25
Madison Co.
Comment: A late-instar larva that was dissected from a flower bud (see companion photo).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-23
Madison Co.
Comment: An early-instar larva that was dissected from a flower bud (see companion photo).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-23
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of a flower bud of Oenothera biennis with a short, swollen pedicel. See companion photo of a larva that was dissected from this.
Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2015-08-29
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2015-07-24
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2015-07-24
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2012-05-29
Wake Co.
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