Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
Family (Alpha):
« »
View PDFCosmopterigidae Members: 10 NC Records

Limnaecia phragmitella Stainton, 1851 - Shy Cosmet Moth



view caption

view caption

view caption
Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: CosmopterigidaeSubfamily: CosmopteriginaeP3 Number: 420401.00 MONA Number: 1515.00
Comments: Limnaecia is a large genus with approximately 100 described species that occur mainly in Australasia and Oceania. One species occurs in North America. None are known from South America.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Immature Stages: Claassen's (1921)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a rather distinctive small moth that has a streamlined tan body and two black discal dots in the gray streak that are ringed with white. The following detailed description is based on those by Forbes (1923) and Powell and Opler (2009). The adults are slender and the head, thorax, and ground of the forewings are tan or clay-colored. The labial palps are thin, recurved, and diverging, and terminate above the thorax. Each has two slender black lines on the third segment. The antenna is about two-thirds the wing length. The shaft is cream-colored with a series of black dots that resemble annuli, and the scape has a black line. The forewing is uniformly tan or clay-colored, except for a faint to distinct longitudinal gray streak. There are two small, black, discal dots in the gray streak that are partially or completely ringed with white. There is also a weaker black point or dash just posterior and inward to the first discal dot. It often has a white margin on the posterior half. The fringe is pale gray, and the hindwing is light gray with a nearly white fringe.
Wingspan: 20 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Forewing Length: 5.9-10.2 mm, with males smaller than females (Hodges, 1978)
Adult Structural Features: Hodges (1978) has descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The following life history summary is based on Claassen's (1921) work in New York. The larvae feed within the heads of cattails. They initially feed on the styles of the pistillate flowers, then move farther inward and eat the seeds of the plant. As cold weather approaches, they migrate still farther inward near the rachis. Silk is used to hold the downy material together and prevent the seeds from escaping. The cattail heads that are infested fluff out in large, conspicuous masses and are easily distinguished from non-infected heads. The larvae overwinter in the heads and resume growing during the spring. They either pupate within the head or bore into the stem where they form silk-lined burrows. Pupation occurs within tough, white cocoons and last about a month. The larvae are 10-12 mm long, and yellowish white with five longitudinal brown stripes. The median stripe is narrow, the next broader, and the lateral stripe is often broken into blotches. The head is light yellow and blotched with brown, and the prothoracic shield mottled with dark brown.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Limnaecia phragmitella is widely distributed around the world in association with cattails. This species is present in Europe, North Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as North America. Populations occur throughout North America where cattails grow locally, including most of southern Canada, the eastern US, and in scattered localities throughout the western US. Hodges (1978) noted that populations are extremely local, and that the adults do not appear to fly far from the food plants. As of 2021, we have records from all three physiographic provinces. Recent attempts to locate populations by breaking apart cattail heads and searching for larvae have been fruitful and have greatly increased our understanding of the distribution of this species in 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)

Click on graph to enlarge
Immature 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: The adults have been found from April through October in areas outside of North Carolina, with a seasonal peak in June and July. Local emergence is timed to the flowering of cattails. As of 2021, our records are from late June through mid-August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations in North Carolina are primarily associated with Broadleaf Cattail, which is common in a variety of open, sunny, wetlands such as flooded ditches, marshes, and the edges of ponds and lakes.
Larval Host Plants: The known hosts in North America are Broadleaf Cattail (Typha latifolia) and Narrowleaf Cattail (T. angustifolia).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and the larvae are common in cattail seed heads. Finding larvae in cattail heads is an easy way to gather new locality data for the state.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Cattail and Tall Grass Marshes
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [SU]
State Protection:
Comments: This species is locally common where cattails are present and appears to be secure within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Limnaecia phragmitella - Shy Cosmet Moth

Photos: 13

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-03-31
Bladen Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-17
Buncombe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-17
Buncombe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-12
Wake Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-12
Wake Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-07
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: John Petranka on 2021-03-04
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: John Petranka on 2021-03-04
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-02
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A larvae that was inside of a cattail head (Typha latifolia).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-02
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A larvae that was inside of a cattail head (Typha latifolia).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-02
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A larvae that was inside of a cattail head (Typha latifolia).
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-07-02
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-07-02
Orange Co.
Comment: