Moths of North Carolina
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Cosmopterix Members:
1 NC Records

Cosmopterix pulchrimella Chambers, 1875 - Beautiful Cosmopterix Moth

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Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: CosmopterigidaeSubfamily: CosmopteriginaeTribe: [Cosmopterigini]P3 Number: 420355.00 MONA Number: 1472.00
Comments: Cosmopterix is a very large genus of small, colorful moths that are found on every continent except Antarctica. There are 31 species that are currently recognized in North America, and all are leafminers.
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: BugGuide; MPG; BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Hodges (1978); Koster (2010)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Koster (2010)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description focuses on forewing and antenna patterning, and is based on a more detailed description presented by Koster (2010). The vertex has two lateral white lines and a medial line on a dark brown ground color, while the dorsum of the thorax only has the medial line. The scape is white below and brown above with a medial white line. The antenna is dark brown with a white line near the base that continues on the shaft as a series of dots to beyond one-half the length. This is followed by the following color sequence: five dark brown segments, one white segment, one dark brown segment, one white segment, three dark brown segments, one white segment, approximately twelve dark brown segments, three white segments, and then five dark brown segments at the apex (Koster, 2010). The forewings are dark brown basally and distally, and there are three silvery white lines in the basal area that sometimes have a golden gloss. These include a subcostal line that is nearest to the base and bends away from the costa distally, a shorter medial line that is underneath the distal end of the subcostal, and a subdorsal line that is as long as the subcostal, but further from the base. A bright orange to orange-brown fascia that narrows towards the dorsum occurs beyond the middle of the wing. It is bordered internally and externally by a silvery fascia with internal black borders (Koster, 2010; Hodges, 1962). There is also a broad white streak that extends from just beyond the orange-brown fascia to the costa. There is a white streak or spot at the apex of the wing, and a bluish white spot in the middle of the outer margin. The hindwings are fuscous-brown.

Forewing Length: 3.0-4.0 mm (Koster, 2010)
Adult Structural Features: The following is based on the description of genitalia by Koster (2010). Male genitalia. The right brachium of the uncus is spatulate, and the apex gradually tapers and is blunt. The length of the right brachium is about four times that of the left brachium. The valva is more or less triangular. The upper and lower margins are concave, and the caudal margin is convex. The anellus lobes are slightly bent and narrowed near the base. The widest part is in the middle, then it tapers apically to a sharp point. The aedeagus is slender and the bulbous part is straight. It narrows distally to about one-half its width. The basal half is about one-third of the length of the bulbous part. The lateral lobes are narrow, and almost as long as the basal part. Female genitalia. The posterior edge of segment VII is concave. The sterigma is short and oval. The ostium bursae is round, with a cup-shaped and weakly sclerotized ridge ventrally. The ductus bursae is wide and slightly widens anteriorly. It is slightly longer than the corpus bursae. The corpus bursae is elongate with two very small funnel-shaped signa. Koster (2010) noted that the male genitalia is best characterized by the rather simple spatulate right brachium of the uncus, the more or less triangular valvae, and the slender aedeagus. Characteristic features of the female are the concave posterior edge of segment VII, the short and oval sterigma, and the wide ductus bursae.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The young larva initially produces an irregular gallery. This is usually made at the midrib and eventually leads to an irregular blotch. The leaf often becomes contorted as silk in laid down in the mine. The larva also constructs a silk-lined gallery that serves as a shelter when the larva is not feeding. Some frass is deposited inside the mine, but most is deposited externally through a hole at the beginning of the mine (Koster, 2010). Active mines typically have black pellets of frass on the underside of a leaf. The larvae regularly abandon their mines and construct new ones. The cocoon may be spun within the mine, in a leaf fold, or on the ground (Eiseman, 2019).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Cosmopterix pulchrimella occurs in southern Canada, from Massachusetts to southern Florida, and further west from southern Wyoming to southern Arizona and New Mexico. It also has been introduced into Europe, the Azores, the Canary Islands and Madeira. As of 2022,cwe have only one record for North Carolina.
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: Bivoltine, but in the southernmost portions of the range in is thought to breed year-round.
Habitats and Life History
Larval Host Plants: Larvae feed on members of the Urticaceae. The known host plants include Pennsylvania Pellitory (Parietaria pensylvanica) and Greenfruit Clearweed (Pilea pumila; Koster, 2010).
Observation Methods: Adults are attracted to UV lights, and can be reared from the host plants.
See also Habitat Account for General Broadleaf Herbaceous Mires
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S1S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.

 Photo Gallery for Cosmopterix pulchrimella - Beautiful Cosmopterix Moth

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-25
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-25
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-25
Madison Co.