Moths of North Carolina
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Pseudexentera Members:
1 NC Records

Pseudexentera mali Freeman, 1942 - Pale Apple Leafroller Moth

No image for this species.
Superfamily: Tortricoidea Family: TortricidaeSubfamily: OlethreutinaeTribe: EucosminiP3 Number: 621158.00 MONA Number: 3247.00
Comments: The genus Pseudexentera currently has 19 recognized species that are found primarily in North and Central America, with 17 recognized species in the US. They are typically found in forested settings and most fly very early in the year. Many are challenging to identify, particularly the species with fasciate forewing patterns that often show substantial intraspecific variation in patterning and have slight differences in genitalia (Miller, 1968; Gilligan et al., 2008). There has been a long history of misidentified species in the group (Miller, 1968) and there is still much confusion about external traits that are useful in sorting out certain closely related forms. DNA barcoding has not proven to be particularly useful in sorting out species since recognized species often have two or more BINS that contain multiple species names. This likely reflects weak genetic differentiation between certain forms and the large numbers of misidentified specimens in collections. Miller (1968) conducted a taxonomic revision and reviewed all of the recognized species in North America, but did not provide detailed descriptions of external coloration, patterning, or intraspecific variation within species. Here, we treat our assignment of the fasciate specimens to species as provisional since they are based on images or pinned specimens that have not been barcoded or dissected to examine genitalia. Even with the latter, specimens cannot always be confidently assigned to species.
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Freeman (1942)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based primarily on that by Freeman (1942). The adults are sexually dimorphic with the females being more strongly marked than the males. In the males the external surfaces of the palps, and the antenna, head, and thorax are all grayish-brown. The forewing lacks strong patterning and tends to be concolorous with the remainder of the body. The basal region often tends towards dark grayish brown with an admixture of golden brown scales. Golden brown scales also tend to predominate along the posterior margin and in the apical third where the golden brown often contains a few black scales in the tornal region. The fringe is gray and darker apically. The hindwing is light smoky with a paler fringe that has a dark basal line.

In females the palps, antenna, head, and thorax are similar to that of the males, but the forewing has a dark brown basal patch that is sharply angled outwardly. Its outer margin is well defined on the dorsal half but rather obscure on the costal half. A large grayish-white, irregularly quadrate patch is present on the dorsal margin just before the tornus. It extends to about one-third the wing depth, and is followed outwardly by a brownish area containing a few black bars, then by a grayish white somewhat plumbeous ocellus containing a few black scales. The costal area from the basal patch outward consists of numerous, short, dark brown streaks interspaced with grayish-white ones. it is bordered below at the apex with an irregular patch of golden brown scales. The fringe and hindwing are similar to those of the males.

Freeman (1942) noted that P. mali is easily distinguished form P. cressoniana by its much smaller size and by the golden-brown color of the male's forewing. The females are much more strongly marked than the males and resemble females of P. cressoniana, but the dark brown streaks along the costa are more obscure and the grayish-white quadrate patch is more distinct. If in doubt, these should sort out by size (6-7.5 mm for P. mali versus 8-10 mm for P. cressoniana).
Wingspan: 15-16 mm
Forewing Length: 6.5-8.0 mm for males and 6.0-7.5 mm for females (Miller, 1986).
Adult Structural Features: Miller (1986) noted that forewing veins R4 and R5 were stalked or connate at the origin in 83% of the specimens that he examined, and approximate in the remainder. The males lack a costal fold on the forewing, as is the case with other Pseudexentera species. Miller (1986) and Gilligan et al. (2008) have descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia. In the males, the valva is constricted approximately at the middle, the valval length/cucullus length ratio is 1.7 to 1.9, the anal spine is near the lower edge of the cucullus, the lower edge of the cucullus lacks projections, and the aedeagus has a falcate apex (Miller, 1986). In females, the ostium bursae begins three-fourths to one and one-thirds its width behind the front edge of the sternum, the forward end of the sterigma tapers gradually if at all, the corpus bursae spicule bases are not fused into a sclerotized patch, and the signa are unequal or subequal in size.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable only by close inspection of structural features or by DNA analysis.
Immatures and Development: Most of our knowledge about the larval life history is from studies in apple orchards where this species can be a minor pest. The larvae mostly fold and bind newly emerging leaves with silk and feed on the tender leaf tissue. They will also feed on buds when young, and occasionally on developing fruits (Chapman and Lienk, 1971). Jaques et al. (1968) noted that the larvae feed on the buds and young leaves of apple trees in May and June in Nova Scotia. The mature larvae drop to the ground in the third or fourth week of June, then construct cocoons in the soil beneath the leaf litter. They aestivate for about two months, then pupate in the autumn and overwinter in the soil. Chapman and Lienk (1971) noted that the larvae often burrow 2-3 cm in the soil before spinning a cocoon, which becomes covered with soil and plant debris. In early spring the pupae wiggle from the cocoons and make their way to the soil surface. The adults emerge shortly thereafter in March or April as conditions warm. Females lay eggs singly in leaf scars and other crevices on the stems or spurs of apples or other hosts (Chapman and Lienk, 1971). The eggs typically hatch within 10-14 days depending on ambient temperatures.

The early instars have a black head and prothoracic shield. As they age the heads of late instars become light brown with darker sides and the shield becomes almost entirely pale or tinged with brown laterally. The body is dull yellowish-white and becomes greenish just before aestivation (Freeman, 1942). MacKay (1959) provides a detailed description of the larvae.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Pseudexentera mali is restricted to eastern North America and is more common at northern latitudes in the US. The main range extends from southern Maine and Nova Scotia westward through extreme southern Canada (Ontario, Quebec) to Illinois. It extends southward mostly through the Appalachian region to West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, Virginia, eastern Tennessee and western 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)

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Flight Comments: Local populations are univoltine, with the adults flying from February through May. At most sites a seasonal peak occurs around April.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is commonly found in apple orchards and possibly used hawthorns of other members of the Rosaceae as native hosts before the introduction of apples to the US in the 1600's.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae feed on members of the Rosaceae, including hawthorns (Crataegus sp.), commercial apples (Malus domestica), and pears (P. communis; Freeman, 1942; Chapman and Lienk, 1971; Brown et al., 2012). - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights and larvae can be found on apples and other hosts soon after the spring leaf-out. We need more information on native plant use and the larvae should be searched for on hawthorns at higher elevations in the mountains.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Rosaceous Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S2S4
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: As of 2022 we have only one record for North Carolina and do not have sufficient data to assess the conservation status of this species.