Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFCosmopterigidae Members: 2 NC Records

Pyroderces rileyi (Walsingham, 1882) - Pink Scavenger Caterpillar Moth


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: CosmopterigidaeSubfamily: CosmopteriginaeTribe: [Cosmopterigini]P3 Number: 420398.00 MONA Number: 1512.00
Comments: Pyroderces is a genus of small comet moths that are primarily found in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate parts of the world. They are well represented in Australia and the Old World tropics, and there are three species in North America. Hodges (1978) placed our three species in the genus Pyroderces, but Europeans usually place these in the genus Anatrachyntis.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Hodges (1978)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Busck (1917)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is based on the original description by Walsingham (1882). The head is chestnut-brown and the eyes are red. The labial palps are recurved, widely divergent, and terminate at or beyond the vertex. They are whitish with an oblique pale brown mark on each side near the end of the second joint, and two or three brownish spots on the sides of the apical joint. The antenna is white with fuscous annulations. The basal joint is elongate and chestnut brown. The forewing is chestnut-brown and slightly shaded with fuscous towards the costal margin. A whitish ocherous streak is present at the base of the dorsal margin, followed by two or three other smaller ones along the dorsal margin (in some specimens these are obsolete). Above the dorsal margin there are two oblique whitish ocherous streaks, the first before the middle, and the second before the anal angle. A similar streak extends from the costal margin immediately before the apex, and is outwardly margined by a streak of black scales. The apex and apical margin are also black, and there is a faint fuscous streak running downwards through the cilia below the apex. On the cell are two elongated patches of black scales, one immediately before the middle of the wing, the other halfway between this and the base. The fringes is gray, with a slight yellowish tinge. The hindwing is pale grayish. The hind tibia is grayish white, and outwardly fuscous, and the hind tarsi whitish, with a wide fuscous band followed by two fuscous spots on their outer sides. This species is very similar to P. badia, and is perhaps most reliably identified using genitalia. Hodges (1978) reported that the color patterning on the hind tibia is diagnostic. The tibia of P. rileyi has a median white streak with a dorsolateral row of brown scales, while that of P. badia has a median white streak that is unicolorous.
Wingspan: 9-12 mm (Walsingham, 1882)
Forewing Length: 4.2-6.8 mm (Hodges, 1978)
Adult Structural Features: Hodges (1978) has descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia, and a key for distinguishing this species from P. badia. Busck (1917) also has descriptions and illustrations of the male genitalia, and detailed descriptions of the larvae and pupae.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae primarily feed as scavengers and decomposers on plant material such as stored grain, rotting fruits, and piles of plant debris. The mature larvae are 7-8 mm long and pink to deep red wine. The head is light brown with blackish trophi, and the thoracic shield is broad, undivided, strongly chitinized, and dark brown. The anal plate is light brown, and the tubercles are small, whitish, and bear long, light-brown setae (Busck, 1917). The pink areas are arranged in two bands, one each on the anterior and posterior margins of each segment. Populations are multivoltine in tropical regions, with as many as eight generations per year.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from close inspection of specimens or by DNA analysis.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Pyroderces rileyi is widely dispersed in warm and tropical regions around the world. It was originally described from Georgia, but it is uncertain if it is native to North America. Some feel that the species originated from Africa. It is now found in many areas with warm temperate to tropical climates, including portions of Europe, Africa, southern Asia, the Pacific, South America, and the US and Caribbean Islands. In the US, it occurs in the southeastern Coastal Plain from North Carolina to Florida, and westward along the Gulf Coast to southern Texas. It is also well established in California and Arizona.
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 are active year-round in Florida, and mostly from June through October farther north. Our two historical records for the state lack collection dates.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is associated with human habitation and agricultural operations. The adults feed on a variety of stored grains, cultivated fruits, and decomposing plant debris.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are highly polyphagous, and mostly feed as scavengers or detritivores on a variety of plant material (Landry, 2001). They have also been reported to mine leaves and to prey upon scale insects (Landry, 2001). The larvae feed on stored grains, fruits and vegetables, flowers, rotting vegetation, legume pods, coffee beans, and many other organic food sources. Walsingham (1882) originally described the species from adults that emerged from rotting cotton-bolls. They can become significant pests on stored grain, bananas, citrus, and other foods.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and can often be found in stored grains, decomposing plant material, and other organically rich substances.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [SNA]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This is thought to be an introduced species, but this needs to be verified. If so, it does not merit protection.