Moths of North Carolina
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Filatima Members:
5 NC Records

Filatima serotinella (Busck, 1903) - No Common Name

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Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: GelechiidaeSubfamily: GelechiinaeTribe: GelechiiniP3 Number: 421125.00 MONA Number: 2172.00
Comments: The genus Filatima contains around 80 species that are primarily Holarctic in distribution, with the greatest diversity in semiarid areas of the western United States and Mexico. Their larvae are leaf tiers that feed primarily on legumes, but also exploit a variety of other vascular plants.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Busck (1903a)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Busck (1903a)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Filatima serotinella is easily recognized by the prominent labial brush, its overall blackish coloration, and the presence of a prominent chocolate-brown streak along the costa that terminates at a white costal spot. The following detailed description is based on that of Busck (1903a). The dorsum of the head and thorax have a mixture of white and purplish black scales, with the latter predominating. The antenna is purplish black, with very narrow and indistinct whitish annulations. The second joint of the labial palp is whitish above and strongly sprinkled with black scales, while the underside of the well-developed brush is black. The terminal joint is black with white at the extreme tip. The ground color of the forewing is black with white scales irregularly interspersed. A light chocolate-brown streak extends along the costa from the wing base to about three-fourths where it meets a costal white spot. An opposing whitish spot that is often ill-defined is present on the inner margin, and the two are sometimes connected to produce a faint fascia. The cilia are dark fuscous, with whitish scales intermixed, and fresh specimens often have one or two faint blackish lines that parallel the edge of the wing. The hindwing is dark shining fuscous, and the cilia light fuscous. The abdomen is yellowish brown on the first segments, and dark fuscous on the remaining segments. The legs are mostly dark fuscous to blackish with paler bands and annulations. The species is similar to F. pseudoacaciella, but is larger and lacks prominent whitish spotting along the costal region.
Forewing Length: 16-21 mm (Busck, 1903a)
Adult Structural Features: Busck (1939) has illustrations of the male and female genitalia.
Immatures and Development: This species specializes on Black Cherry. Females lay eggs singly on the upper side at the tip of a leaf, and the hatchling folds the edges of the leaf downward and binds them with silk. As it grows it progressively folds more of the leaf together, and covers the open end with a white, sheet of silk (Busck, 1903a). The larva lives in a black silken tube covered with frass, and skeletonizes the leaf from within the leaf fold. Busck (1903a) noted that the larva will quickly retreat into its tube of frass when disturbed. The full-grown larva pupates within the leaf fold within an oval cocoon. The young larva has a black head and thoracic shield and a dirty greenish white body, with two narrow longitudinal dark-brown dorsal lines and four (two on each side side) broader lateral lines through all the segments. Full grown larvae are 20-24 mm long and the head and thoracic shield are light brown. The ground color of the body becomes lighter with age, and the stripes more reddish (Busck, 1903a). Populations that were studied in the District of Columbia are bivoltine, with young larvae first appearing in May and the adults emerging in late July and early in August. The second generation overwinters as full-grown larvae in their cocoons, and the adults emerge the following spring.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Filatima serotinella is found in extreme southern Canada (Ontario and Quebec), and in the eastern US from Maine southward to Florida, and westward to eastern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois. As of 2021, we have records from the Piedmont and a lower elevation site in the Blue Ridge 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: The adults have been found from March through October in areas outside of North Carolina. Local populations are bivoltine, with the first brood following the spring leaf-out. A second brood is produced in July and August. As of 2021, we have adult records from April and August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is dependent on Black Cherry as a food source. Black Cherry is common in hardwood and mixed-hardwood forests in the mountains and elsewhere. The seeds are dispersed by birds, and plants often become established in disturbed habitats such as fencerows, abandoned fields, forest edges and urban landscapes.
Larval Host Plants: Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) is the only documented host.
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally come to lights. The leaf folds are rather conspicuous on Black Cherry leaves, and the striped larvae are rather distinctive.
See also Habitat Account for General Rosaceous Thickets
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 currently do not have sufficient information on the distribution and abundance of this species within the state to assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Filatima serotinella - No common name

Photos: 4

Recorded by: David George, Becky Watkins on 2022-08-21
Durham Co.
Comment: A larva from a frass tube on Black Cherry.
Recorded by: David George, Becky Watkins on 2022-08-21
Durham Co.
Comment: A frass tube that was in a rolled leaf of Black Cherry.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2019-08-04
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2019-08-04
Madison Co.