Moths of North Carolina
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Pelochrista Members:
11 NC Records

Pelochrista oraria (Wright, 2011) - No Common Name

Family: TortricidaeSubfamily: OlethreutinaeTribe: EucosminiP3 Number: 621002.00 MONA Number: 3116.20 MONA Synonym: Eucosma oraria
Comments: Pelochrista is a large Holarctic genus of tortricids with around 75% of the 226 described species being native to North America (Wright and Gilligan, 2017). The highest species richness occurs in the western half of North America. The genus has a long and confusing taxonomic history, with many of the species formerly placed in the genus Eucosma. Gilligan et al. (2014) conducted a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of Pelochrista, Eucosma, and related genera and redefined the genus Eucosma and Pelochrista based on differences in female genitalia. The great majority of Pelochrista species are known only from adults, which likely reflects the fact that the larvae of most species bore into stem bases and roots and are concealed from view. Members of the Asteraceae are the likely hosts for most species (Wright and Gilligan, 2017), but much work need to be done to identifying the hosts.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Wright (2011); Wright and Gilligan (2017)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based on that of Wright (2011). The lower frons is creamy white and the head, labial palps, antennae, and thorax are brown. The legs have whitish posterior surfaces with tarsi that have inconspicuous tan bands at the distal extremities of the tarsomeres. The ground color of the forewing is pale brown and is extensively marked with fine brown reticulations. The ground is overlain with two conspicuous dark brown marks. The first is a sharply defined, sub-basal patch that begins on the inner margin and extends to near the middle of the wing where it narrows to a rounded apex. The second is a broad, median triangular-shaped mark that is darkest near the inner margin and fades towards the costa. The posterior end of the triangular mark has a tapering extension that runs towards and often to the apex. The sub-basal and median patches are both thinly edged with white, and a narrow postmedian band is sometimes evident that extends from near tornus inwardly where is may connect to the apical extension from the median patch. The wing lacks an ocellus and the costa lacks pale strigulae. The fringe scales are blackish gray to gray brown with a thin terminal line, while the hindwing is grayish brown.

Pelochrista oraria is best distinguished from P. dorsisignatana and P. similiana by its relatively large size (mean forewing length = 10.8 mm vs. 9.4 mm and 9.2 mm, respectively) and by its forewing maculation and geographic range. In North Carolina, P. oraria is restricted to coastal and maritime habitats, while P. dorsisignatana and P. similiana are found in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge.
Forewing Length: 7.3–12.2 mm; mean = 10.6 mm (Wright, 2011).
Adult Structural Features: This and other members of the dorsisignatana species group have nearly identical genitalia, Wright (2011) and Wright and Gilligan (2017) have illustrations of the genitalia and Wright and Gilligan (2017) provide a general description of the genitalia of the group members as follows. In males, the uncus is triangular and is weakly differentiated from the dorsolateral shoulders of the tegumen. The socii are short and fingerlike, and the phallus mildly tapers distally, with the base closely surrounded by the anellus. The vesica has 8-31 cornuti. The costal margin of the valva is concave and the ventral emargination is shallow. The neck is short and broad. The cucullus has the dorsal lobe moderately developed, and the apex broadly rounded. The distal margin is convex and nearly uniform in curvature, while the ventral lobe is weakly developed and the anal angle is broadly rounded. Setation of the medial surface is short and fine.

In females, the papillae anales are flat, moderately setose, and densely microtrichiate along the margins of the ventral opening. The sterigma is Type II, U-shaped, and microtrichiate. The lamella postvaginalis is rectangular, with the lateral margins curled inward. The posterior edge appears to be deeply emarginated due to reduced sclerotization of the medial trough. The medial trough is flanked by hairlike setae and the lamella antevaginalis is ringlike. Sternum 7 is rectangular with the posterior margin indented to about one-third the length of the sterigma. Scaling of sternum 7 is uniform except for a moderately dense band along the posterior margin. The ductus bursae has a patch of sclerotization (sometimes fragmented) near the juncture with the ductus seminalis. The corpus bursae has one large signum, but sometimes with a second vestigial signum in the form of a small sclerotized scar and/or a cluster of sclerotized dots on the membrane.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The adults inhabit coastal dunes and maritime scrub, but the larval life history is undocumented.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Pelochrista oraria is found in maritime habitats along the Atlantic Seaboard from Nova Scotia southward to North Carolina. As of 2022, our records are all from barrier islands.
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: Local populations appear to be univoltine, with records extending from August through October. Wright (2011) reported one record from Long Island for 30 May, which suggests that populations may double brood on rare occasion. As of 2022, all of our records are from October.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are commonly found in maritime habitats such as dunes, coastal marshes, and maritime scrub.
Larval Host Plants: The hosts are undocumented.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S2-S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Pelochrista oraria reaches its southern limit in North Carolina and has specialized habitat requirements. As of 2022, we have only three site records. We currently do not have sufficient information on its distribution and abundance to accurately assess its conservation status within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Pelochrista oraria - No common name

Photos: 9

Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-10-27
Pender Co.
Recorded by: R. Newman on 2022-10-25
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-10-24
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-10-23
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-10-29
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-10-29
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-10-29
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 2007-10-09
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: R. Newman on 2004-10-21
Carteret Co.