Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGelechiidae Members: 12 NC Records

Coleotechnites apicitripunctella (Clemens, 1860) - Green Hemlock Needleminer



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Taxonomy
Family: GelechiidaeSubfamily: GelechiinaeTribe: LitiniP3 Number: 420708.00 MONA Number: 1789.00
Comments: The genus Coleotechnites includes 49 very small species that occur in North America. Most species are specialists on conifers and tend to use on a single genus of host plant. Many of the Coleotechnites species have almost identical genitalia that are not very useful in delineating closely related forms (Freeman, 1960; 1965). Freeman (1960) noted that host plants and the mining characteristics often provide the most reliable way to identify closely related species.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Immature Stages: Freeman, 1965; Maier et al., 2011                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based in part on the original description by Clemens (1860b). The head, face and thorax are ocherous, and the thorax usually has two or three dark dots near the posterior margin. The labial palp is ocherous internally and dark fuscous externally. The terminal joint has a dark ring at the base and tip, and the extreme tip is ocherous. The antenna is dark fuscous and indistinctly annulated with ocherous. The forewing is brownish ocherous, with three oblique dark streaks from the costa to the middle of the wing, bordered behind with very pale ocherous. The first is near the base, the second at about the middle of the costa, and the third at about three-fourths, with its pale ocherous to whitish margin extended across the wing as a narrow angulated fascia. Three black dots of raised scales are present just below the inner margin at about one-third, one-half, and three-fourths the wing length, and a parallel row of smaller dots is present inwardly near the middle of the wing. One or more of these is often missing or obscured by the darker streaks. A series of five or six small dark spots are present along the base of the wing tip. The cilia of the tip is somewhat dusted with fuscous, and the inner margin ocherous. The hindwing is rather dark ocherous, and the cilia the same. In North Carolina populations, the costal streaks are short. They terminate well before reaching the middle of the wing, and usually just beyond the costal margin.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae mine the needles of hemlocks and have a light green to yellowish green body with a dark head and prothoracic shield. The prothoracic shield has a light gray anterior margin, and there are several tiny, dark green spots on each body segment. The late-instar larvae are < 7 mm long. The larval life history appears to be essentially identical to that of our other hemlock miner, C. macleodi (Freeman, 1965; Maier et al., 2011; Eiseman, 2019). A bore hole is made near the base of each leaf blade and the frass is expelled from the mines. After mining several leaves, larvae observed in Canada overwinter in a mines and resume feeding in the spring. Six or more needles are ultimately mined. The dead needles are tied loosely together with webbing, and the older instars construct an elongate silk tube and join the bases of the mined needles together. Specimens in North Carolina appear to overwinter at later stages than those in Canada, with the webbed leaves and elongate silk tube fully formed by winter. As it approaches maturity, the larva hollows out needles from the lower surface.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Coleotechnites apicitripunctella is found in eastern North America. The range extends from southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick) and adjoining areas of the northeastern US, westward to Illinois, and southward along the Appalachian region to North Carolina and Tennessee. As of 2021, we have records from seven counties that are mostly from lower-elevation sites in the Blue Ridge.
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 larvae overwinter and adults emerge in May through July in the northern areas of the range. Our rearing records suggest that the adults begin emerging in April in north Carolina.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is a specialist on Eastern Hemlock, which is most commonly found in cool, moist ravines and similar forested sites.
Larval Host Plants: Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is the only known host, but Carolina Hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) could potentially be a host for southern Appalachian populations.
Observation Methods: We recommend searching for the webbed leaves during winter and spring. The color of the caterpillars should be checked to verify that they are green with dark heads and prothoracic shields. Coleotechnites macleodi builds similar webs, but has brown larvae with amber-colored heads and thoracic shields.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Hemlock Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S2S3
State Protection:
Comments: This species was only recently discovered in North Carolina, and more information is needed on its distribution and abundance before we can assess its conservation status. This and other species that are hemlock specialists are being severely impacted by the widespread loss of Eastern Hemlock due to infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid.

 Photo Gallery for Coleotechnites apicitripunctella - Green Hemlock Needleminer

Photos: 21

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-12-26
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-12-26
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-12-26
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-12-26
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-12-26
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-12-17
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-12-17
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-05
Madison Co.
Comment: Adults were reared from green larvae on Eastern Hemlock; larvae collected on March 6, 2021; two adults emerged on 3 April, 2021.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-05
Madison Co.
Comment: Adults were reared from green larvae on Eastern Hemlock; larvae collected on March 6, 2021; two adults emerged on 3 April, 2021.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-01
Henderson Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a green larva on Eastern Hemlock (see companion photos of larva and leaf nest on 9 March, 2021). Mine collected on 2021-03-09; adult emerged on 2021-04-01.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-01
Henderson Co.
Comment: Adult was reared from a green larva on Eastern Hemlock (see companion photos of larva and leaf nest on 9 March, 2021).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-01
Henderson Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a green larva on Eastern Hemlock (see companion photos of larva and leaf nest on 9 March, 2021). Mine collected on 2021-03-09; adult emerged on 2021-04-01.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-11
Polk Co.
Comment: A nest of dead Eastern Hemlock needles and silk that contained a green larvae (see companion photo).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-11
Polk Co.
Comment: A larvae that was extracted from a nest on Eastern Hemlock (see companion photo).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-09
Henderson Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-09
Henderson Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-09
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-03-05
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a green caterpillar that was on Eastern Hemlock. Caterpillar was collected on 2020-12-10 (see companion photo); adult emerged on 2021-03-05.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-03-05
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a green caterpillar that was on Eastern Hemlock. Caterpillar was collected on 2020-12-10 (see companion photo); adult emerged on 2021-03-05.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-01-10
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-01-10
Madison Co.
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