Moths of North Carolina
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Metzneria Members:
5 NC Records

Metzneria lappella (Linnaeus, 1758) - Burdock Seedhead Moth

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: GelechiidaeSubfamily: GelechiinaeTribe: AnomologiniP3 Number: 420600.00 MONA Number: 1685.00
Comments: Metzneria is an Old World genus with 48 species that are found mostly in Eurasia and Africa. Metzneria lappella was introduced in the US sometime before the late 1800's.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Powell and Opler (2009)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1923)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The head and thorax are tan and concolorous with the forewing ground color. The long, recurved labial palp is light brown and terminates above the thorax. The antenna is tan with darker annulations, and is about three-fifths as long as the wing length. The forewing is narrow and apically acute. It has longitudinal and oblique brownish streaks that are rather poorly defined, and that tend to be more prevalent on the costal half. The costal margin is often darker along the basal third. A dark brown dot is present at about two-fifths, and a second at about two-thirds. These may be masked by dark shading in fresh specimens, and worn in older specimens. Specimens often have heavy dark shading in the subterminal area. The cilia are yellowish brown to grayish, with a dark line near the middle. The hindwing is dark fuscous gray and has a wavy margin.
Wingspan: 12-19 mm
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae specialize on burdocks and feed on the seeds in the thistle-like heads. The adults breed in the summer and the hatchlings feed on the tender, developing seeds. The larvae overwinter in the dried heads, where each larva constructs a whitish, silk-lined chamber where it remain until it pupates the following spring or early summer. The larva is grub-like with a squat, translucent-whitish body that is prominently segmented. The head is light brown, except for a whitish vertical triangle that is joined to a broad whitish band bordering the upper frons. The band is sometimes expanded laterally into a triangular mark (UK moths). The prothoracic shield is transparent yellowish white, and shows brown when the head is withdrawn below it. The thoracic legs are vestigial and whitish.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This species is native to Europe and was introduced along with its burdock hosts to North America. Populations are now found throughout the eastern US and southern Canada in the East, and in southern Canada, the coastal states, and Colorado in the West. As of 2021, our records are all from the Blue Ridge Mountains from both lower and higher elevation sites.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Populations are univoltine. The adults are on the wing from June through August, with a strong seasonal peak in July. As of 2021, our records are from mid-June through mid-July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The host plants tend to be weedy in nature, and can be found in a variety of open, sunny sites. Burdocks are commonly found in farm lots, agricultural fields, pastures, roadsides, and similar habitats.
Larval Host Plants: The two known host in North America are Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) and Lesser Burdock (A. minus). - View
Observation Methods: The adult are attracted to lights. Larvae can be found by breaking open seed heads in the winter or spring.
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: Both this species and its host plants are Introduced from Eurasia. Consequently, it has no conservation significance in North Carolina.

 Photo Gallery for Metzneria lappella - Burdock Seedhead Moth

Photos: 2

Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2019-06-30
Ashe Co.
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger, P. Scharf on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.