Moths of North Carolina
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19 NC Records

Prionoxystus macmurtrei (Guérin-Méneville, 1829) - Little Carpenterworm Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Cossoidea Family: CossidaeSubfamily: CossinaeTribe: [Cossini]P3 Number: 640030.00 MONA Number: 2694.00
Comments: One of three members of the genus in North America, two of which are found in North Carolina. Very similar in appearance to members of the genus Acossus, though no species in that genus occurs in the southeastern U.S. It is among the largest of the "micro-moths."
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Packard (1890)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Subtly sexually dimorphic. The forewings of the female are brownish to smoky gray, marked by variable black, transverse lines, and are noticeably translucent. The hindwings are largely unmarked gray and also translucent. Males have more attenuated forewings that show a pattern similar to that of the female, though it is typically more lightly marked. The hindwings of the male show a straighter outer margin and may show pale orange or yellow in the median area. As with P. robinae, macmurtrei has a thick abdomen, broad thorax, and disproportionally small head.
Wingspan: 30 mm, males; 60-75 mm, females (Forbes, 1923)
Adult Structural Features: Length from tip of head to apex of forewing at rest averages 30 mm (n=2) (female).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are known as carpenterworms for their wood-boring habits. Last instar is large (up to 2.5 inches) and rather non-descript, being pinkish- or grayish-white with raised black bumps running laterally across each segment and black smudging on the dorsum of the thoracic segments. Head black. Because they develop in wood, larvae are rarely seen; exit holes are more likely to be found.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: All of our records come from the Piedmont
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: Appears to be univoltine, with all of our records coming from March to May
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records come from fairly nondescript locations, including building lights in towns. One comes from a Piedmont monadnock and two others come from habitats associated with artificial reservoirs.
Larval Host Plants: Borers into the wood of deciduous trees such as ash, maples, and oaks (Covell, 2005).
Observation Methods: Females are attracted to lights to some extent, males far less so. Since the mouthparts of the adults are rudimentary, they do not feed and consequently do not come to bait or visit flowers.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 [S3S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it in state parks and on other public lands.
Comments: Forbes (1923) noted that this species is quite rare in collections. That agrees with our records, which are few and far between in North Carolina. However, the records do not indicate any significant degree of habitat specialization and the scarcity of this species may be more apparent -- representing sampling problems -- than real. More information is needed on their distribution, host plant and habitat preferences in North Carolina before their conservation status can be accurately assessed.

 Photo Gallery for Prionoxystus macmurtrei - Little Carpenterworm Moth

Photos: 22

Recorded by: tom ward on 2022-06-07
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-05-19
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-04-13
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-04-13
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-04-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Richard Teper on 2021-04-27
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-04-20
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-16
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-28
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-28
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-20
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2017-05-02
Stokes Co.
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Recorded by: Lori Owenby on 2016-10-30
Catawba Co.
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Recorded by: Lori Owenby on 2016-06-23
Catawba Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2015-04-18
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2015-04-09
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2014-04-12
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Parker Backstrom on 2013-04-18
Chatham Co.
Comment: Female.
Recorded by: Parker Backstrom on 2013-04-18
Chatham Co.
Comment: Female.
Recorded by: Parker Backstrom on 2012-03-21
Lee Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2011-04-20
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Parker Backstrom on 2010-04-17
Lee Co.
Comment: Female