Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFTineidae Members:
Acrolophus Members:
6 NC Records

Acrolophus cressoni (Walsingham, 1887) - Cresson's Grass Tubeworm Moth

Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: [Acrolophinae]Tribe: [Acrolophini]P3 Number: 300069.00 MONA Number: 347.00
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.
Field Guide Descriptions: Leckie and Beadle (2018) Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Hasbrouck (1964)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a small, reddish-brown species of Acrolophus with a somewhat more slender build than most species. The labial palps, head, and thorax lack the dense coarse tufting that is common in many Acrolophus. The following description is based in part on that of Walsingham's original description (see Hasbrouck, 1964). The labial palp is short and brown, with ocherous scales intermixed. The apical joint has an indistinct pale ocherous band around its middle. The antenna is pale brown. The forewings are reddish brown, with scattered, purplish-fuscous, raised tufts that are concentrated along the dorsal margin. There are usually four squarish, pale patches with darker regions in between. These include one before, and one beyond the middle of the dorsal margin, one near the middle of the costa, and one at or just before the apex. These tend to be arranged with dark areas in between to form an indistinct chess-board pattern. In some specimens the median costal and the antemedian dorsal pale squares are joined to form an angulated fascia. The abdomen, hindwing, and hindwing cilia are all dull brown. The first two pairs of legs are conspicuously spotted with brown and ocherous, while the third pair is ocherous on the tibia, and spotted with brown on the tarsal joints.
Wingspan: 15-20 mm (Hasbrouck, 1964)
Adult Structural Features: Hasbrouck (1964) has descriptions and illustrations of the male genitalia. This species belongs to Hasbrouck's cressoni-maculifer-crescentella species group. For members of this group, the palps of males are short and erect, and lack the dense tufting found on species whose palps extend back across the thorax. The antenna is simple, with each segment in the male having a small, funnel-shaped ring of scales. The eye is sparsely setose, with the setae recumbent or partially recurved. The palps of the female (at least in A. maculifer) are porrect.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Very little is known about the larval life history. Heppner (2003) reported that they feed on grass, but provided no details.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Acrolophus cressoni is a southern species that occurs from North Carolina, Tennessee, and western Kentucky, southward to southern Florida and Mississippi, and westward to Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma. As of 2020, we have five records that are all from the eastern Piedmont.
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: Adults are in flight from May through October in Florida, and May through August elsewhere outside of North Carolina. Populations are single-brooded in North Carolina. As of 2020, our records are from late June through late July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The habitat requirements are poorly documented. This species is thought to feed on grasses and presumably prefers open, sunny areas.
Larval Host Plants: Heppner (2003) reported that this species feeds on grass, but did not provide any details or specific observations. If true, the larvae presumably feed on grass roots in underground burrows like certain other Acrolophus species. At present, little definitive information is known about its specific hosts or feeding mode. - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights.
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: This species appears to be near the northern limit of its range in North Carolina. More information is needed on its distribution and abundance before we can assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Acrolophus cressoni - Cresson's Grass Tubeworm Moth

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Jim Petranka, John Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2023-06-14
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-07-13
Warren Co.
Comment: A male
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn on 2010-07-04
Wake Co.
Comment: A male