Moths of North Carolina
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2 NC Records

Mompha terminella (Westwood, 1851) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: MomphidaeSubfamily: MomphinaeTribe: [Momphini]P3 Number: 421855.00 MONA Number: 1456.00
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: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLD                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is primarily based on the description in Forbes (1923). The head and thorax are lead-colored to dark brown, while the antenna is dark brown with a whitish tip. The forewing has rather complex patterning. The ground is yellowish orange and has deep brown blotches and silvery spots and streaks. The latter can appear either silvery or lead-colored depending on the angle of light. At the wing base, there is a large, oval, dark brown blotch that extends from the costa and terminates just before reaching the inner margin. The blotch is completely or partially surrounded by a wide silvery margin. The apex of the wing has a similar large blotch that lacks the silvery margin and has a whitish triangular mark on the anterior end. At about two-thirds the wing length, there is an oblique silvery streak or irregular blotch that extends from the inner margin posteriorly towards the white triangular mark. A large silvery spot is present on the inner margin at about one-third. It often connects with the silvery band that surrounds the oval blotch at the wing base. A small, subcostal, silver spot with a partial or complete black margin is present at one-half the wing length. Two large black tufts are present on the dorsal half of the wing, one at about one-half and the second at about three-fourth the wing length. The base of the dorsal fringe is lead gray, and the legs are blackish with whitish marks near the joints.
Wingspan: 8 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae are specialists on Enchanter's-nightshade. Females lay their eggs singly on the upper leaf surface and the hatchling initially produces a full-depth linear mine. The mine begins as a threadlike and sometimes spiraling track, then abruptly enlarges into a blotch. The blotch is usually separate from the linear portion, and often on a separate leaf (Braun, 1915a; Eiseman, 2019). A larva typically make several successive blotches, with the last sometimes occupying almost half of one of the larger leaves. Frass is deposited loosely in the linear mine and sometimes forms a narrow central line toward the end. For much of their development, the larva expels frass from the blotches, depositing it in piles at intervals along the margin (Eiseman, 2019). Later the fecal pellets are scattered at random throughout the mine. When mature, the larva exits and spins a flattened, yellowish cocoon, which tapers at the posterior end and is broadly rounded at the anterior end. The adults emerge within two or three weeks after the cocoon is spun (Braun, 1915a).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Mompha terminella is found in both North America and Europe. Populations extend from British Columbia to Nova Scotia in southern Canada, although populations in western Canada may be an undescribed species (Pohl et al. 2018). In the US, the range extends from Maine and other northeastern states westward to Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois, and southward through Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia to western North Carolina. As of 2021, our records are from lower elevations in the Blue Ridge.
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: Adults are active from May through September in areas outside of North Carolina, with a seasonal peak from June through August. Local populations appear to be bivoltine. As of 2021, our two records are both from early August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Broadleaf Enchanter's-nightshade is the most important host in North Carolina. This species is found in mesic, nutrient-rich hardwood forests, including in bottomland hardwood forests, cove forests, and on the lower slopes of hillsides.
Larval Host Plants: The two known hosts are Small Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea alpina) and Broadleaf Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea canadensis). - View
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights and are sometimes seen resting on vegetation during the day. The conspicuous blotch mines are easy to spot on the leaves of Enchanter's-nightshade.
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: This species is at the southern limit of its range in western North Carolina, where it is seemingly uncommon.

 Photo Gallery for Mompha terminella - No common name

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-08
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-08
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-08
Madison Co.