Moths of North Carolina
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Rhyacionia Members:
5 NC Records

Rhyacionia busckana Heinrich, 1923 - Red Pine Tip Moth

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Superfamily: Tortricoidea Family: TortricidaeSubfamily: OlethreutinaeTribe: EucosminiP3 Number: 620706.00 MONA Number: 2879.00
Comments: The genus Rhyacionia is widespread in the Holarctic Region, ranging from Japan and Asia to the Caribbean Antilles and Mexico (Powell and Miller, 1978). There are 33 described species worldwide and 24 in North America. The larvae feed on the needles, buds, and growing tips of pines.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Miller (1985)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Except for their antennal morphology, Rhyacionia busckana is externally indistinguishable from a sibling species, R. granti. The following is based on the original description by Miller (1985) of R. granti. The description of R. busckana by Powell and Miller (1978) was actually based on both species, since R. granti had not been described at that time. The labial palps, crown of the head, and thorax are clothed with either reddish scales or brownish black scales with white tips. The length of the second segment of the labial palp is subequal to the eye diameter, and the length of the third segment is one-fourth that of the second. The front of the head is brownish black. The antennal pecten length is less than that of the antennal segment length. The basal two-thirds of the forewing has a series of narrow, alternating, pale gray and grayish brown cross-bands. The apical third of the forewing has red and yellow scales. The hindwing is uniformly light gray above and the abdomen is shiny gray. The leg scaling is similar to that of the thorax. Rhyacionia granti and R. busckana are most easily distinguished by the male antennae (Miller, 1985). In R. granti the length of the pecten on the basal third of the antenna greatly exceeds the length of the antennal segments. In R. busckana, the length of the pecten is shorter than the length of the antennal segments (see structural photos below). These species can also be distinguished by the male and female genitalia. Specimens of R. granti in North Carolina most commonly have reddish scales on the upper head and anterior regions of the thorax, while those of R. busckana tend to be more grayish.
Forewing Length: 7.5 mm (n = 1; Miller, 1985)
Adult Structural Features: Miller (1985) has descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia, as well as ways to distinguish R. busckana from its cryptic sibling species, R. granti. In R. granti males, the uncus is usually narrower and the aedeagal asymmetry less pronounced. In R. granti females, caudal widening of the sterigma is usually slight, while in R. busckana it is pronounced. The sterigma width in the former is less than three-fold the ostium bursae width, while in the latter it is three-fold or more.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on the young leaves and shoot of pines, but detailed studies of the life history have not been conducted.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Rhyacionia busckana is found primarily in eastern North America, with scattered records in the West from British Columbia, Oregon, and Colorado (Powell and Miller, 1978). The range in the East is rather poorly defined because records for R. granti were confused with those of R. busckana prior to 1985. Populations occur in extreme southern Canada (Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec), and from Maine southward to at least South Carolina. The range extends westward to Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois, with an isolate occurring in southeastern Texas. As of 2021, all of our records are from near the coast.
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: This is a late-winter to early spring species. Records in the eastern US extend from January through April, with a seasonal peak in March. Adults in the most northern populations most fly between March and June. As of 2021, our records that extend from mid-January through March.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Populations require pines for successful reproduction, but the specific hosts that are used in the southeastern US are undocumented. Our collection records from the coast are near pocosins.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are pine specialists (Prentice, 1966; Powell and Miller, 1978; Miller, 1985a; Lam et al., 2011; Eiseman, 2022). In Canada, the larvae use Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana), Red Pine (P. resinosa) and Scotch Pine (P. sylvestris). Our collections from the coast are near pocosins with Pond Pine (P. serotina), which suggests that it could be a host.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights. More information is needed concerning host use, so we encourage naturalists to document aspects of the larval ecology and life history.
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Wet, Acidic Pine Woodlands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: We currently do not have sufficient information on the distribution and abundance of this species to assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Rhyacionia busckana - Red Pine Tip Moth

Photos: 2

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2022-02-18
Beaufort Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-01-15
Onslow Co.