Moths of North Carolina
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Melittia Members:
8 NC Records

Melittia cucurbitae (Harris, 1828) - Squash Vine Borer Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Sesioidea Family: SesiidaeSubfamily: SesiinaeTribe: MelittiiniP3 Number: 640081.00 MONA Number: 2536.00
Comments: One of roughly 130 members of Sesiidae to occur north of Mexico, 30 of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Of six species of Melittia, this is the only one found the eastern U.S. Perhaps the most familiar member of the family, especially to those who tend vegetable gardens, where it can be a destructive pest. Members of this family closely mimic wasps or hornets in both appearance and behavior.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Eichlin and Duckworth (1988)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This species is among the most easily identifiable members of the family. The thorax and forewings are a matching, opaque gunmetal gray or dark grayish-green; the hindwings (hidden at rest) are hyaline. On males, abdominal segments 1 and 2 are dark, matching the color of the forewings, on females, the dark coloration is limited to segment 1 and variously segments 3 and 4 (Eichlin & Duckworth, 1988). The remaining segments are reddish orange, most bearing a single dark spot on the dorsum. The hindlegs of cucurbitae are largely reddish orange and bear long, hair-like tufts which give them a noticeable and distinctively shaggy appearance. Length from tip of head to apex of forewing at rest averages 14 mm (n = 1).
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The white, grub-like larvae bore into and develop inside the vines of host plants so are unlikely to be seen without a targeted search. After development inside the host plant the larvae enter the soil at the base of the plant and form a cocoon, eclosing the following spring (Eichlin & Duckworth, 1988).
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution:
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
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Across its range prefers gardens and other open spaces where host and nectar plants are found.
Larval Host Plants: Cucurbitaceae, especially cultivated squashes, pumpkins, and gourds.
Observation Methods: Most likely to be observed on sunny days in and around vegetable gardens, but the species also visits flowers to take nectar. As is the case with other sesiids, the male of the species shows a strong responsiveness to artificial chemical lures (Eichlin & Duckworth, 1988).
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks:
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is common across North Carolina. Like other sesiids, though, it is generally inconspicuous and at best only uncommonly encountered.

 Photo Gallery for Melittia cucurbitae - Squash Vine Borer Moth

Photos: 7

Recorded by: Barbara McRae on 2020-08-01
Macon Co.
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Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan on 2017-05-18
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn on 2015-08-06
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Anthony Shaheen on 2012-06-12
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2010-07-15
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Taylor Piephoff on 2010-06-10
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: FKW on 2009-05-31
Gates Co.
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