Moths of North Carolina
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Gnorimoschema Members:
7 NC Records

Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis (Riley, 1869) - Goldenrod Gall Moth

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: GelechiidaeSubfamily: GelechiinaeTribe: GnorimoscheminiP3 Number: 421204.00 MONA Number: 1986.00
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: Nason et al. (2002) found that G. gallaesolidaginis that use two goldenrod species locally (Solidago altissima; S. gigantea) are genetically distinct. They were uncertain whether these were host races of a single species or two distinct species.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Riley (1869)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Leiby (1922); Miller (1963)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is based in part on the description by Riley (1869). The head, thorax and labial palp are pale with varying levels of dark brown dusting. The antenna has faint brown with pale annulations. The forewing ground is mostly dark brown. A pale fascia with darker speckling begins on the costa at about one-fifth the wing length. It curves gently towards the inner margin, where it fuses with a concolorous longitudinal band along the inner margin. The band along the inner margin is narrow and extends from near the wing base to around four-fifths, where it often tends to deflect inward and continue towards the wing tip. The apical third is variable, but tends to be paler than the ground in the remainder of the wing and heavily speckled with darker coloration. There is often a poorly defined, pale costal blotch at about four-fifths. The head, thorax, and the base of the forewing before the fascia are usually paler than the central area of the wing where a broad region of dark brown is present. The cilia are concolorous with the ground in the apical third, and the hindwing is gray with lighter cilia. The legs are dark brown to blackish with pale to whitish annulations.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae make oblong or elliptically shaped galls on goldenrod stems and feed on tissues within the gall. The following account is based on Leiby's (1922) detailed study of populations in New York, Vermont, and Raleigh, North Carolina. The adults emerge from the galls during the last part of August and early September in the north, and in October in the Piedmont of North Carolina. The eggs are deposited singly on the stems and lower dried leaves of the goldenrod and overwinter in the dead vegetation. Hatching occurs when the new spring growth of goldenrod is 10-15 cm high. This occurs in late March and early April in North Carolina. The hatchling crawls up the shoot and bores into the side of the terminal bud where is feeds for several days, then feeds downward through the stem for 3-8 cm. Feeding triggers gall formation, and the gall continuous to enlarge until June or July, when the larva inside is nearly fully grown. The frass is packed into the bottom of the gall. When the larva is nearly mature, it constructs a channel at the top of the gall to near the edge. It later cuts through the edge to create an exit hole and fills it with a mixture of silk and plant tissue to make a whitish, cork-like plug. The larva has a dull brown body and a light brown head and cervical shield. Pupation occurs within the gall, and the newly emerged adult exits through the hole after removing the plug. In the Piedmont of North Carolina, the larval stage lasted over 150 days, and the pupal stage about 51 days, which is longer than in northern populations (Leiby, 1922; Miller 1963). The adults have their peak emergence around mid-October around Raleigh and probably a few weeks earlier in the mountains based on the fact that northern populations emerge before southern ones.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis is found throughout much of southern Canada (British Columbia to Nova Scotia) and in the eastern US from Maine southward to Florida, and westward to central Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. As of 2021, we have a few scattered records from all three physiographic regions of the state.
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: Adults have been collected during almost every month of the year in areas outside of North Carolina, but most are from August and September. Populations are univoltine, and breeding occurs in the late summer or early autumn (Riley, 1869; Leiby, 1922; Miller 1963). Records from late autumn through early spring may reflect post-reproductive adults that survived through the winter. As of 2021, our records are from early September through late October, with one record from the coast from late March.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae feed on Tall Goldenrod and Giant Goldenrod in North Carolina. The first species is common in a variety of open, sunny settings such as fields, infrequently mowed roadways, the edges of agricultural fields, forest clearings, and clearcuts. Giant Goldenrod is also found in open, sunny sites, but grows in wet habitats.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae feed on goldenrods. Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima) and Giant Goldenrod (S. gigantea) are the primary hosts (Leiby, 1922; Miller 1963; Nason et al., 2002). Leiby (1922) also reported that Gray Goldenrod (S. nemoralis) is used, but apparently only rarely. - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, but many records are from adults that were reared from the conspicuous galls.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional Fields and Forblands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S2S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We have a few scattered records from throughout the state. More information is need on the distribution and abundance of this species before we can assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis - Goldenrod Gall Moth

Photos: 5

Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-10-28
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-10-28
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-10-28
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2015-08-08
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Doug Blatny/Jackie Nelson on 2012-09-09
Ashe Co.