Moths of North Carolina
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Synanthedon Members:
15 NC Records

Synanthedon rileyana (Edwards, 1881) - Riley's Clearwing Moth

Superfamily: Sesioidea Family: SesiidaeSubfamily: SesiinaeTribe: SynanthedoniniP3 Number: 640093.00 MONA Number: 2552.00
Comments: 133 members of the Sesiidae family occur in North American north of Mexico. Species’ in the genus Synanthedon constitute half of the 30 species found in North Carolina, many being similar in appearance to one another. Some sesiids, known broadly as clearwing borers, are significant pests of commercial crops.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2018)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Eichlin and Duckworth (1988)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Thorax is brownish-black with a yellow collar and yellow around the base of the wings. Abdomen is cylindrical in shape, brownish-black ringed with yellow on the posterior edge of segments 2-7. Anal tuft of male short, brown-black, somewhat triangular with yellow lateral tufts that are short, flared. Forewing mostly hyaline with narrow brown margins variously powdered orange-red, particularly on the basal margins, and possesses an oblong, distinctly red discal mark. Hindwing hyaline with very narrow margins and a small orange-red discal spot (Eichlin & Duckworth, 1988). Legs largely yellow or yellow-orange, antennae dark. Sexes similar but female with broader outer margin of forewing. Wing length 7-12 mm (Eichlin & Duckworth, 1988).
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae bore into roots 3 to 10 inches deep to feed and overwinter (Eichlin & Duckworth, 1988). Larvae continue developing the following spring and summer, with adults typically emerging beginning in late July (Taft, Smitley, and Snow, 2004).
Distribution in North Carolina
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
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Open waste areas, roadsides, fields, and sand prairies where food plant grows, often in abundance.
Larval Host Plants: The only sesiid that feeds upon members of the Solanaceae family, particularly Carolina horse nettle (Solanum carolinense) (Eichlin & Duckworth, 1988; Taft, Smitley, and Snow, 2004), a “weedy” nightshade likely familiar to those who spend any amount of time in the field. - View
Observation Methods: The ubiquity of the host plant would make targeted searches for rileyana difficult. Though not attracted to lights or bait, as with most sesiids males of this species can be lured to traps using synthetic, chemically engineered sex attractants (see Taft, Smitley, & Snow, 2004, for list of species-specific pheromone blends).
See also Habitat Account for General Successional Fields and Forblands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S4S5
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species closely mimics a Yellow Jacket hornet (Vespula sp.). Common and widespread but inconspicuous and only infrequently encountered in natural settings.

 Photo Gallery for Synanthedon rileyana - Riley's Clearwing Moth

Photos: 6

Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-09
Alamance Co.
Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-09
Alamance Co.
Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-09
Alamance Co.
Recorded by: Richard Teper on 2021-06-11
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Rob Van Epps on 2017-08-12
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn on 2011-07-29
Halifax Co.