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

Stagmatophora sexnotella (Chambers, 1878) - No Common Name


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: CosmopterigidaeSubfamily: CosmopteriginaeP3 Number: 420392.00 MONA Number: 1508.00
Comments: Stagmatophora is a holarctic genus with approximately 50 species. None are known to occur in the Neotropical Region, and four species occur in North America north of Mexico (Hodges, 1978). Some authorities recognize two genera (Stagmatophora and Eteobalea), but Hodges (1978) synonymized the two because he could not find a unique set of characters to distinguish between them.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a distinctive species with a white head, a labial palp with two annuli, and a dark forewing with white and metallic-silvery markings. The following is based on the descriptions by Chambers (1878) and Walsingham (1907). The head is white, and the thorax dark brown to blackish. The antenna is dark brown, with a small white spot at the end of the basal joint. The labial palp is creamy white, with two brownish annuli on the terminal joint. The ground color of the forewing is dark brown to blackish, with three shining white markings on the costal margin and two metallic silver spots near the dorsal margin. At the basal one-fifth of the wing, there is an oblique white costal streak that crosses the fold and typically terminates before reaching the inner margin. A similar, but shorter streak is at one-half that is sometimes broken into two spots. A large white spot is present on the costa at about four-fifths, and a second smaller spot is present at the apex. Just below the dorsal margin there are two metallic silvery spots. The first is at about one-half the wing length and just anterior to the second costal streak, while the second is at about three-fourths. The hindwing and cilia on both wings are light brownish gray, while the abdomen is brownish fuscous, with whitish marks along the sides. The legs are whitish and banded with dark brown. This species is similar to S. wyattella, but the occiput is uniformly shining white, the base of the forewing is dark brown, and the hindwing and cilia are pale gray. In S. wyattella, the posterior margin of the occiput is dark brown, the base of the forewing is white, and the hindwing and cilia are dark gray.
Wingspan: 11 mm (Walsingham, (1907)
Forewing Length: 3.8 - 6.3 mm (Hodges, 1978)
Adult Structural Features: Hodges (1978) provides descriptions of the male and female genitalia for members of the genus, but did not provide descriptions for S. sexnotella.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae are specialists on bluecurls (Trichostema spp.). They apparently burrow into the stems of the plants and trigger the development of oblong-shaped galls. They feed within the galls, and pupation presumably occurs within the gall since adults have been reared from galls that were collected in the field.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Stagmatophora sexnotella is found in eastern North America from the New England states and southern Ontario southward to Florida, and westward to eastern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois. Local populations are restricted to where the host plants are present. Our only records as of 2021 are from Carteret Co., which is surprising given that the host plant is common throughout most of the state.
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: Adults have been found from January through August in Florida, and from April through September in other areas outside of North Carolina. As of 2021, our records are from late May through the third week of June.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is a specialist on bluecurls and presumably uses Forked Bluecurls and Dune Bluecurls in North Carolina. These species prefer somewhat dry, open areas where the seeds can successfully germinate. Forked Bluecurls can be found in old fields, the edges of woodlands, under powerline clearings, on dunes, and in similar open habitats, while Dune Bluecurls is a dune specialist. As of 2021, our two records are from a dune site and a spoil site at the coast. Other habitats are undoubtedly used farther inland.
Larval Host Plants: Stagmatophora sexnotella is the only species of moth that specializes on bluecurls and is unique in producing stem galls on these hosts. The known hosts include Forked Bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum), Florida Scrub Bluecurls (T. suffrutescens; Hodges, 1978), and the recently described Dune Bluecurls (T. nesophilum).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights. The galls are easy to spot on bluecurls, and more information is needed on the hosts, larval ecology, and life history.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: As of 2021, we have only a single site record, which suggests that this species is uncommon in the state.