Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGelechiidae Members: 2 NC Records

Gnorimoschema gallaeasterella (Kellicott, 1878) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: GelechiidaeSubfamily: GelechiinaeTribe: GnorimoscheminiP3 Number: 421203.00 MONA Number: 1985.00
Comments: The genus Gnorimoschema contains over 115 species of small moths. There are more than 80 species in North America, and most are found in the southwestern US. They appear to specialize on members of the Asteraceae and have a diverse array of feeding niches that includes leafminers and gall-makers.
Species Status: This species is one of several eastern insects that induce galls on goldenrods. Careful study is needed to determine the correct species. The rearing of adults is always helpful, as it knowledge of the host plant.
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Kellicott (1878)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Kellicott (1878); Judd (1962)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based in part on that of Kellicott (1878). The head is white. The thorax is also white, but often has faint brown streaking or spotting. The labial palp is mostly white with brown scales on the outside of the second joint. The terminal joint is white, with a black subterminal band and a tiny white tip. The antenna is white with thin, brown annulations. The forewing ground is white, and is overlain with black spots and larger reddish brown to dark brown dusting and marks. A large reddish brown to dark brown hemispheric patch begins along the costa at about one-third the wing length and extends rearward to one-half or more. The patch extends inward towards the inner margin to about two-thirds the wing depth. The anterior margin is oblique and relatively clean-cut, while the posterior region tends to be irregular and spreads posteriorly to varying degrees where there are often one or two smaller reddish-brown to dark brown patches. The inner margin usually has two blackish dashes or spots, one near the wing base and one just beyond one-half. The apical third is whitish, with varying levels are dark brown mottling. The basal third is also white, and often with a reddish brown diffuse costal patch, along with a small black patch at the base of the inner margin. The cilia are dull white with darker speckling. The hindwing is gray and the cilia lighter. The abdomen is gray and the first three segments are yellow above. The legs are blackish with narrow, white annulations.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on the stems of asters and goldenrods where they induce the formation of elliptical, hollow galls. Kellicott (1878) noted that the galls are often found < 20 cm above the ground when feeding on White Wood-aster (Eurybia divaricata), and that the terminal bud develops very little after the larva begins feeding. The mature galls were about 3 cm long and 1.3 cm in diameter. Feeding on the internal tissues triggers gall formation. When fully grown the larva makes a round hole near the top of the gall (leaving a thin scale of the epidermis) then fills it with a closely-fitting plug of silk. It then lines the interior of the gall with silk and pupates shortly thereafter. The adult emerged after unplugging the escape hole. The older larvae have a black head, and cervical and anal shields are composed of ragged brown patches. The body is tawny colored. Kellicott (1878) found pupae in early July and adults in early August. Judd (1962) reared an adult from galls that were on Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis). The galls ranged from 1.3-5 cm long and were located about 10 cm above the ground. These contained escape holes at the top and conformed in all regards to Kellicott's (1878) description. Almost all of the galls that were collected were infected with parasitic wasps.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Gnorimoschema gallaeasterella is found in western Canada (British Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan) and in eastern North America. In the East, the range extends from southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec; Nova Scotia) and the New England states southward to North Carolina and Tennessee, and westward to Oklahoma, Illinois, and Michigan. As of 2021, we have records from the eastern Piedmont and a lower elevation site in the mountains.
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
Flight Comments: Populations are univoltine. The adults have been found in areas outside of North Carolina from June through October, with a seasonal peak in August and September. As of 2021, we only have one dated record from late August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae feed on several species on asters and goldenrods that are found in both woodland settings and more open spaces. They occupy habitats that range from wet to mesic microhabitats. The two most common hosts appear to be White Wood-aster and Zigzag Goldenrod , which are both common in mesic forests and forest edge habitats.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae produce galls on several species of asters and goldenrods. The documented hosts include White Wood-aster (Eurybia divaricata), Tall Flat-top Aster (Doellingeria umbellata), Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia), Zigzag Goldenrod (S. flexicaulis), and Bog Goldenrod (S. uliginosa).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and the large galls are easy to spot on native asters and goldenrods.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: As of 2021, we have only one recent record for this species. More information is needed on its host use, distribution and abundance before we can assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Gnorimoschema gallaeasterella - No common name

Photos: 2

Recorded by: Merrill Lynch on 2011-08-25
Watauga Co.
Comment: BugGuide: Photo#568354
Recorded by: Merrill Lynch on 2011-08-25
Watauga Co.
Comment: BugGuide: Photo#568354