Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
Family (Alpha):
« »
View PDFTineidae Members:
Acrolophus Members:
41 NC Records

Acrolophus arcanella (Clemens, 1859) - Grass Tubeworm Moth



view caption

view caption

view caption
Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: [Acrolophinae]Tribe: [Acrolophini]P3 Number: 300080.00 MONA Number: 340.00
Comments: The genus Acrolophus is a mostly neotropical taxon with over 250 described species, including 54 that are currently recognized in North America. The labial palps on the males of many species are very elongated and densely hairy. The larvae of some species live in silk-lined burrows in the ground and feed on the roots and young shoots of grasses and herbs. However, the life histories of most species remain undocumented and in need of study. Members of this genus were previously placed in their own family (Acrolophidae), but they are now treated as a subgroup within the Tineidae based on molecular phylogenetic studies.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: (Leckie and Beadle, 2018)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Hasbrouck (1964)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Hasbrouck (1964)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based in part on that in Hasbrouck (1964). The labial palp of the male is intermediate in length relative to other Acrolophus species and extends to the upper head region. It is brown in front and dark brown externally. The antenna is brown and slightly serrated towards the apex. The thorax is dark brown and prominently tufted anteriorly and posteriorly, the vestiture being rough, deep, and very dense like that of the head and palps. The forewing is brownish, with a mixture of finely mottled pale, brown, and blackish specks and blotches. At one-half, there is a blackish, triangular mark, with the apex extending almost to the inner margin, and the base extending to about one-third the wing depth. A pale blotch that often has a matching reverse triangular shape occurs on both the posterior and anterior sides of the dark triangular mark. A dark basal streak extends from the middle of the base to the anterior pale blotch (sometimes incomplete and represented as only a black blotch). At about four-fifths there is a central pale streak that is preceded by a darker blotch. On fresh specimens, there is a series of scattered white scales that are most prominent on the apical one-fourth where they sometimes produce radiating lines of sorts. The fringe is checkered with alternating dark brown and pale patches that extend from the anal angle to the apex, then continue onto the costal margin as a series of smaller spots. The legs are dark with lighter bands near the joints. Females are similar to males, but have short labial palps that project forward. This species is somewhat similar to A. popeanella in terms of coloration and patterning, but the hairy vestiture on the head, thorax, and palps is much coarser and better developed than that of A. popeanella, and the palps of male A. arcanella are shorter. Note the scattered white scales on the forewing of A. arcanella, which are lacking in A. popeanella.

Wingspan: 25-28 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Forewing Length: 13-16 mm TL (Leckie and Beadle, 2018)
Adult Structural Features: Hasbrouck (1964) has descriptions and illustrations of the male genitalia. According to Hasbrouck (1964) this species can be distinguished from other members of the genus by having labial palps of intermediate length, setose eyes, laminate antennae, a bifid uncus, and paired gnathos. It is also unique in possessing a prominent tuft of lashes at the anterior margin of each eye.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae primarily feed on the roots of plants, including corn and wheat (Forbes, 1890; 1903). Each larva makes a tubular web opening at the ground surface that leads down into a vertical burrow that can extend 15-60 cm or more. Forbes (1903) and Comstock (1924) reported that they sometimes feed on the surface on young corn plants. The larva surrounds the base of a plant with a fine web that is mixed with earth and pellets. It then builds this up in the lower blades, which they slowly eat away. As they get larger they eat the stripped plants to the ground. When disturbed they retreat into their web-lined burrows in the soil. The mature larvae are about 3 cm long and dusky gray. The head and first thoracic segment are shiny black, with large, irregular, shining white to dusky areas on the thorax (Forbes, 1890). The larvae overwinter and pupate the following spring.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from close inspection of specimens or by DNA analysis.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Acrolophus arcanella is found throughout most of the central and eastern US (Hasbrouck, 1964). The range extends from Vermont and vicinity southwards to southern Florida, and westward to central Texas, Kansas, Illinois, and Nebraska. As of 2020, our records are all from the Piedmont and lower elevations in the mountains.
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: Adult are on the wing from March-December in Florida, and from May through October in other areas outside of North Carolina, with a seasonal peak in June and July. As of 2020, our records are from early June through early October, with most during June and July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is generally associated with more open, sunny habitats such as meadows, hedgerows, gardens and agricultural fields (Forbes, 1890; 1903).
Larval Host Plants: The larvae specialize on the roots of grasses and perhaps certain herbs (Robinson et al., 2010). The known hosts include domesticated corn, wheat and strawberries (Fragaria).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We currently do not have sufficient information on the distribution and abundance of this species to assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Acrolophus arcanella - Grass Tubeworm Moth

33 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-08-01
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-07-18
Chowan Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2022-07-18
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-07-11
Alamance Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2022-07-04
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-07-03
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-25
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-25
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2021-10-01
Cumberland Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2021-10-01
Cumberland Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-06-29
Buncombe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-22
Wake Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-22
Wake Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-07-19
Buncombe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-19
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-07-12
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-07-12
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-11
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-20
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-02
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-02
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-10-07
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-10-07
Guilford Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2019-07-11
Buncombe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2019-07-11
Buncombe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-06-19
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2019-06-18
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-19
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-19
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2017-06-20
Cabarrus Co.
Comment: