Moths of North Carolina
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7 NC Records

Cosmopterix magophila Meyrick, 1919 - No Common Name

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Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: CosmopterigidaeSubfamily: CosmopteriginaeTribe: [Cosmopterigini]P3 Number: 420360.00 MONA Number: 1477.00
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.
Species Status: Meyrick (1919) originally described this species based on specimens from Southern Pines, NC.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Hodges, 1962, 1978; 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 and thorax region are dark brown with three white lines, including a white median line. The scape is white below and dark brown above with a white line. The antenna is dark brown with a white line that extends from the base to beyond one-half the length, and with the middle section interrupted (dotted). Moving from there towards the apex, there are five dark brown segments, two white segments, two dark brown segments, two white segments, ten dark brown segments, and eight white segments at the apex. The forewing is brown with five white lines in the basal area. These include 1) a short costal line from one-third the length of the wing to the transverse fascia, 2) a subcostal line from the base to one-quarter the length of the wing that bends from the costa in the distal half, 3) a short medial line above the fold that ends just beyond the subcostal, 4) a subdorsal line that is about as long as the medial but slightly further from the base, and 5) a dorsal line from the base to one-quarter of the wing length. A broad yellow transverse fascia is present beyond the middle that has a very small apical protrusion (point). The fascia is bordered at the inner edge by two silver metallic tubercular subcostal and subdorsal spots. The subcostal spot is edged by a small patch of blackish brown scales on the outside, while the subdorsal spot is slightly further from the base and a little larger than the subcostal spot. The transverse fascia is bordered at the outer edge by two similar colored costal and dorsal spots. The dorsal spot is three times as large as the costal and more towards the base. Both spots are partly lined with brown inwardly. A relatively broad white costal streak occurs from the outer costal spot to the costa. Finally, there is a narrow white apical line from or just beyond the apical protrusion that slightly widens in the apical cilia. The cilia are brown around the apex, but paler towards the dorsum. The hindwing is dark brownish gray. This species cannot be reliably distinguished from C. nieukerkeni based on external features (Koster, 2010). C. nieukerkeni has only been found in South America to date, but could potentially be in the US given the wide range of many neotropical Cosmopterix.

Forewing Length: 3.3-3.9 mm (Koster, 2010)
Adult Structural Features: The female genitalia have not been described. The following description of the male genitalia is based on Koster (2010). The right brachium of the uncus is slightly bent, with a lateral protrusion in the middle on the left side. The apical part is somewhat twisted, and tapers abruptly towards the apex. The tip is pointed. The left brachium is less than half the length of the right brachium. It is broad, but narrows in the apical quarter, and has a rounded tip. The valva is boot-shaped with a rounded caudal margin. The upper margin is concave and the lower margin slightly concave. The anellus lobes are rather narrow in the basal part. The apical part is twice as wide, bent in the middle, and has a blunt tip. The aedeagus is slender and bottle-shaped, and narrows distally to about one-half of the width. The basal part is about two-thirds of the length of the bulbous part. The lateral lobes are triangular, and about half the length of the basal part. Koster (2010) noted that the most diagnostic features are the paler brown ground color of the forewing, in combination with the somewhat twisted and pointed apex of the right brachium of the uncus, the boot-shaped valvae, and the rather wide distal part of the aedeagus.
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 the leaves of crabgrass and form elongated, full-depth blotch mines (Eiseman, 2019). Frass is expelled from the mines, presumably from a hole at the basal end as is typical of other Cosmopterix. The larvae pupate within the mine.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Meyrick (1919) originally described C. magophila based on 12 specimens that were collected in 1918 from Southern Pines, and A. B. Klots collected two specimens from Maxton in 1944. We are unaware of any other specimens have been documented in North Carolina since then. Populations have also been found in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Michigan and the Dominican Republic (Koster, 2010).
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)

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Flight Comments: The adults have been collected in May (North Carolina), August and September. Active mines have been found in Oklahoma from July to September, with adults emerging in August and September (Eiseman, 2019).
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae feed on crabgrass, which grows in a variety of disturbed habitats such as mowed roadsides, sandy fields, gardens and croplands.
Larval Host Plants: The only documented host to date is Southern Crabgrass (Digitaria ciliaris).
Observation Methods: Adults appear to only rarely visit lights. Perhaps the most productive way to obtains adults is by searching for mines on crabgrass and rearing the adults.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional and Semi-Natural Grasslands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: [GNR] S2S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: For a species that feeds on such a common host plant, Cosmopterix magophila is very poorly known, with few records found throughout its range in eastern North America (Moth Photgraphers Group, accessed 2020).

 Photo Gallery for Cosmopterix magophila - No common name

Photos: 2

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-10
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-10
Moore Co.