Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFHeliozelidae Members: 5 NC Records

Antispila nysaefoliella Clemens, 1860 - Tupelo Leafminer



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Adeloidea Family: HeliozelidaeP3 Number: 210078.00 MONA Number: 234.00
Comments: Antispila is one of the largest genera within the Heliozelidae, and there are 12 described species in North America. A recent molecular analysis of the family revealed that the genus is polyphyletic with three genetically distinct groups that do not cluster together (Milla et al., 2018). About half of the currently recognized species will likely be assigned to other genera in the future.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG; BugGuideTechnical Description, Adults: Clemens (1860a)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Clemens (1860a)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description of the adults is based on Clemens (1860a) and LaFontaine (1973). The dorsum of the head is dark brown, while the face and labial palps are yellowish ochreous. The antenna is dark brown, with a basal joint that is yellowish ochreous. The forewing is dark brown with bright coppery reflections. Near the base is a rather broad, bright golden to silvery fascia that is broadest on the inner margin, where it is nearer the base relative to the costal end. The fascia is constricted at the fold of the wing and widest on both ends. A triangular-shaped costal spot of the same hue is present at the apical third of the wing. A matching and slightly larger triangular spot occurs on the inner margin, and is nearly midway between the costal spot and the basal fascia. This spot often extends over half way to the costa. The gray basal half of the fringe contrasts strongly with the bright coppery reflections of the wing and with the light buff hue of the outer half of the fringe. The hindwing is purplish brown with grayish ochreous cilia. The tuft of bristles on the underside of the forewings of the male is a light lemon yellow. Antispila nysaefoliella is difficult to distinguish from several closely related species (e.g., A. isabella, A. freemani, A. cornifoliella, and Aspilanta viticordifoliella) based on photographic images. LaFontaine (1973) noted that this species can be distinguished from the dogwood-feeding species by the absence of a light tip on the antenna, and by their golden thorax. This species is best identified by using DNA markers, genitalia, or host plants (Nieukerken et al. 2012).
Adult Structural Features: The male genitalia are distinctive for this species in having large rectangular combs with 18-20 teeth (LaFontaine, 1973). The ovipositor is five-pointed with the central point bulb-shaped, and notched at the tip. The anterior part of the bursa copulatrix is covered with triangular, sharp-pointed spines so dense that they form a mosaic pattern.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larva initially creates a short linear mine, but it rapidly expands into a small, transparent, full-depth blotch (Eiseman, 2019). The mine has dark and rather scattered frass pellets. Each mine has a single larva, and the linear portion typically begins at a leaf vein. It is not uncommon for a single leaf to have several mines. At the termination of feeding, the final-instar larva cuts an oval hole out of the leaf and constructs a double-sided pupal case by encasing themselves with silk between the upper and lower mine layers. The larva drops to the ground and overwinters in the case as a prepupa. Pupation and adult emergence occur the following spring or early summer. Clemens (1860a) reported that the young larva has a dark brown head and thoracic shield. The body is very pale green and the ventral surface has a line of two black spots. The mature larvae have a line of dark, sclerotized mid-dorsal plates that Low (2008) found may function in creating vibrational sounds. Low (2008) found that larvae engage in either the rhythmic movement of the abdomen back and forth, or the rapid pulsing of the abdomen like the rattle of a rattlesnake. These movements generate vibrations that may function as a defense against adult parasitoids that are searching leaves and probing for larvae.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Antispila nysaefoliella is primarily found in the eastern US, but the range extends into southern Ontario. Populations occur locally where the host plants (Nyssa) are found, and occur from the lower New England states south and southwestward to Florida and the gulf Coast states. Populations have been found as far west as eastern Texas and Arkansas. As of 2019, our records are from the western Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont. This species likely occurs throughout much of the state, but has been undercollected.
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 flight season in North Carolina is poorly documented. Low (2008) reported a peak larval period in northern Virginia from late August-early Sept. Records from elsewhere in the eastern US are from April-October.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are strongly affiliated with forest habitats that have Black Gum and Swamp Tupelo. Black Gum is most prevalent in dry to mesic forests, but also occurs in bottomlands, pine flatwoods, and savannas. Swamp Tupelo occurs in a variety of wet habitats in the Coastal Plain, including blackwater floodplains, swamps, pocosins and bays.
Larval Host Plants: Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica) appears to be the primary host (Robinson et al., 2010; Eiseman, 2019), but leaf mines have also been found on Swamp Tupelo (Nyssa biflora) in North Carolina.
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights. The leaf mines with their characteristic oval cut-outs can be readily observed during the late summer and fall months and are a useful way to document the distribution of this species within the state. Clemens (1860a) noted that the mines are often abundant on Black Gum.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Gum and Tupelo Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: As of 2019, we have only a few records for North Carolina. This likely reflects that lack of effort to document leaf-mining moths in the state.

 Photo Gallery for Antispila nysaefoliella - Tupelo Leafminer

Photos: 10

Recorded by: Jim Petranka, John Petranka, Becky Elkin, and Steve Hall on 2021-09-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2020-05-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2020-05-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2020-05-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-09-19
Wake Co.
Comment: A blotch mine on Nyssa sylvatica with an elliptical hole cut in the end of the mine. The portion of the leaf that is excised is used to construct a pupal case.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-09-19
Wake Co.
Comment: A blotch mine on Nyssa sylvatica with an elliptical hole cut in the end of the mine. The portion of the leaf that is excised is used to construct a pupal case.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2017-05-02
Stokes Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2017-05-02
Stokes Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2016-10-04
Scotland Co.
Comment: A blotch mine on Nyssa biflora with an elliptical hole cut in the end of the mine. The portion of the leaf that is excised is used to construct a pupal case.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2016-10-04
Scotland Co.
Comment: A blotch mine on Nyssa biflora with an elliptical hole cut in the end of the mine. The portion of the leaf that is excised is used to construct a pupal case.