Moths of North Carolina
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40 NC Records

Paralobesia liriodendrana (Kearfott, 1904) - Tulip-tree Leaftier Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tortricoidea Family: TortricidaeSubfamily: OlethreutinaeTribe: OlethreutiniP3 Number: 620493.00 MONA Number: 2711.00
Comments: Paralobesia is a genus of small tortricid moths, with the majority of species found in the Nearctic Region. Royals et al. (2019) recently completed a much-needed revision of the genus, which now includes 43 species. Only 19 species were described prior to their work, and there appear to be a few remaining undescribed species in North America where there is insufficient material or data to formally describe them (Royals et al., 2019). We currently have 12 described species in North Carolina, as well as one undescribed species (J.B. Sullivan, pers. comm.). Many are very similar in external coloration and patterning, and are best identified using either genitalia or rearing from host-specific plants.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLD                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Paralobesia liriodendrana and P. magnoliana were previously treated as a single species, but are now considered to be two cryptic species that cannot be distinguished based on external coloration and patterning (Royals et al., 2019). The following description applies to both species and is based in part on that of Royals et al. (2019). The vertex is pale reddish-brown and the labial palps pale-brown to reddish-brown. The thorax is mottled with reddish-orange and tan scales, and the posterior crest is mottled with dark-brown and orange scales. The ground color of the forewing is bluish-gray and is most prominent on the basal half of the wing where it is typically separated by a thin, outwardly angulated band at around one-fourth the wing length. The most prominent mark is a large median fascia that extends from the costa to the inner margin, with the dorsal half greatly expanded distally. The median fascia varies from uniformly dark brown to two-toned, with the dorsal half lighter and tending towards reddish-brown. The median fascia is followed by a prominent subterminal band (blotch) that is centered near the middle of the wing, along with several smaller blotches between it and the apical third of the costa. In North Carolina specimens, these tend to be lighter than the median fascia and are margined with light reddish-tan scales. The fringe is light reddish-brown, and the hindwing is uniformly brown to dark brown. The abdomen is grayish-brown above.

This species is best confirmed by using genitalia or DNA barcoding given that it is indistinguishable from P. magnoliana. Paralobesia viteana is very similar in overall patterning, but has dark-brown marks on the apical half of the wing, lighter-colored palps, and a bluish-gray fringe (Forbes, 1923) versus the light reddish-brown fringe of P. liriodendrana and P. magnoliana. In addition, the costal remnant of the post-median fascia (the small, dark costal mark between the median fascia and the subterminal band) is reduced in size relative to that of P. liriodendrana complex, which is larger and more rectangular-shaped.
Forewing Length: Males: 4.5-6.3 mm; mean = 5.6 mm; females: 5.2-6.3 mm; mean = 5.8 mm (Royals et al., 2019).
Adult Structural Features: Royals et al. (2019) provide descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae are leaf-folders that feed on Liriodendron and Magnolia species. Kearfott (1904) noted that the young instar first spins a tent-like shelter of silk along one side of the midrib and often close to the base of the leaf blade, then skeletonizes the leaf blade. The tent is widened with time until it may reach a lobe of the leaf. The late instar larva folds over or cuts out a flap of the leaf and pupates within the fold. The adults emerge in about two weeks. Local populations commonly have two or three generations per year. Individuals from the last brood overwinter as pupae, with the adults emerging after the spring leaflet. The mature larvae are 10-11 mm long and have a sordid green body. The head is yellowish brown, with the ocellic field and lateral dash on the lobes black. The pro-thoracic shield is dark brown and the thoracic legs are black (Kearfott, 1904).
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Paralobesia liriodendrana is found in the eastern U.S. from southern New York and Pennsylvania and vicinity southwestward mostly through the Appalachian and Piedmont regions to the Florida Panhandle, southern Alabama and southwestern Mississippi (Royals et al., 2019). it occurs as far west as southern Ohio. eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and northern Mississippi. As of 2024, our records are all from the Blue Ridge and Piedmont, except for one isolated record from Onslow County near the coast.
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
Flight Comments: Royals et al. (2019) identified specimens that were collected from late-February through mid-October from different areas of the range. As of 2024, our records extend from mid-April through mid-October. Local populations in North Carolina appear to produce two broods per year.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are restricted to mesic hardwood forests, semi-wooded residential communities, and other wooded habitats that have Liriodendron and Magnolia species present.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae feed on members of the Magnoliaceae (Kearfott, 1904, 1907a; Forbes, 1923; Heinrich, 1926; MacKay, 1959; Prentice, 1966; Lam et al., 2011; Beadle & Leckie, 2018; Eiseman, 2022). Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is the most commonly used host, but the larvae are also known to feed on Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and Sweetbay Magnolia (M. virginiana). - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights and the leaf rolls can be found on the host plants.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Mesic Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S3S5
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species appears to be common in North Carolina where mesic hardwood forests prevail.

 Photo Gallery for Paralobesia liriodendrana - Tulip-tree Leaftier Moth

Photos: 30

Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2024-04-20
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2024-04-20
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka, David George on 2023-08-05
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-04-21
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2022-07-17
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-07-11
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-06
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2022-04-25
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-09-01
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-04-29
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-05-26
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-05-26
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-05-23
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-05-23
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-10-05
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2019-08-26
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2019-08-04
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-06-03
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-06-03
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-18
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-27
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-27
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-23
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2016-09-03
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn; P. Scharf, L. Amos on 2015-05-12
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn; P. Scharf, L. Amos on 2015-05-12
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: J. Merrill Lynch on 2015-05-10
Watauga Co.
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Recorded by: Lori Owenby on 2011-04-23
Catawba Co.
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