Moths of North Carolina
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Common Name:
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View PDFCosmopterigidae Members: 2 NC Records

Cosmopterix clandestinella Busck, 1906 - No Common Name

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Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: CosmopterigidaeSubfamily: CosmopteriginaeTribe: [Cosmopterigini]P3 Number: 420358.00 MONA Number: 1475.00
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: Online Photographs: BugGuideTechnical Description, Adults: Hodges, 1978; Koster, 2010.Technical Description, Immature Stages: Eiseman, 2019.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description focuses on forewing and antenna patterning, and is based on a more detailed description presented by Koster (2010). The head and thorax lack the white, median lines that are present in some Cosmopterix species. The vertex has two lateral lines, but these are absent from the thoracic region. The antenna is brown with an interrupted (dotted) white line from the base to beyond one-half the length, with a short uninterrupted section distally. When moving towards the apex, the interrupted section is followed by the following segment sequence: six brown segments, six white segments, eight brown segments, six white segments, and one brownish segment at the apex. The forewing is dark brown and has three short silver metallic streaks of equal length at one-fifth the wing length. These include a subcostal and a medial streak just above the fold, and a slightly wider subdorsal streak just below the fold. Just beyond one-half the length, there is a dark yellow transverse fascia that narrows towards the dorsum. This is bordered on the inner edge by a slightly inwardly oblique tubercular silver metallic fascia, and bordered at the outer edge by elongated costal and dorsal spots. The dorsal spot is three times the size of the costal spot, and more towards the base. The dark yellow transverse fascia is separated from the silver fascia and the two spots by the dark brown ground color. The costal spot is outwardly edged by a narrow white costal streak that extends to the costa. The apical line occurs as a silver metallic spot with bluish reflection in the middle of the apical area, and a broad white streak in the cilia at the apex. The cilia are dark brown, but paler on the dorsum towards the base. The hindwing is dark grayish brown.
Forewing Length: 3.2-3.7 mm (Koster, 2010).
Adult Structural Features: The following is based on Koster (2010), who also provides detailed illustrations of the genitalia. Male genitalia.The right brachium of the uncus is slender. The basal half is narrow, but widens to a rectangular section in the apical half. The lateral edges are bent upwards and gradually taper distally. The tip is blunt. The left brachium is narrow with a rounded tip, and is only about one-third the length of the right brachium. The valvae are narrow and spatulate, with the caudal margin rounded, the upper margin strongly convex, and the lower margin only slightly convex. The anellus lobes are short, and narrow from the base. At one-half, they strongly widen to a triangular apical part and are bent slightly downward. The bulbous part of the aedeagus is bottle-shaped and narrows distally to one-quarter of the width. The basal part is about two-thirds of the length of the bulbous part, while the lateral lobes are very short, about one-quarter of the length of the basal part. Female genitalia. The posterior edge of sternite VII is concave with a large hump in the middle. The sterigma is tube-shaped and slightly widens towards the ostium bursae. The ductus bursae is about as long as the length of the corpus bursae. The corpus bursae is elongate and tapers distally, while the two signa occur as very large weakly sclerotized circular plates with a crescent-shaped sclerite in the center.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on Deer-tongue Grass and produce irregular, elongated, clear blotch mines that runs parallel to the leaf venation. The frass is blackish and is ejected at one end of the mine (Koster, 2010; Eiseman, 2019). The larva is initially light green with a yellow head and thoracic shield. As it matures, is develops three brilliant wine-red longitudinal stripes.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Cosmopterix clandestinella is widely distributed throughout the eastern US. Populations occur from Michigan, Ohio, and Massachusetts southward to Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina. As of 2020, we have only two records for North Carolina and both are historical records by A. F. Braun from Jackson County. This species is presumably more common in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont where the host species is most common.
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: Local populations appears to be bivoltine (Eiseman, 2019). In populations further north, the adults emerge from late May to early June and again in late July and August (Hodges, 1978; Koster, 2010). Our two adult records for North Carolina are from July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are most likely to be encountered in shaded to partially shaded woods, and along ditches and low areas where the host species occurs.
Larval Host Plants: The only known host is Deer-tongue Witchgrass (Dichanthelium clandestinum).
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights. We recommend searching Dichanthelium clandestinum leaves for the mines and rearing the adults. The mines should be evident by late April or May, and again later in the summer.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet Hardwood Forests
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.