Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFTineidae Members: 67 NC Records

Acrolophus plumifrontella (Clemens, 1859) - Eastern Grass Tubeworm Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: [Acrolophinae]Tribe: [Acrolophini]P3 Number: 300058.00 MONA Number: 372.00
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: Covell (1984); Leckie and Beadle (2018)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Hasbrouck (1964)Technical Description, Immature Stages: .                                                                                  
Adult Markings: This is one of the largest and most robust species in this genus in North America (Hasbrouck, 1964). The forewings are typically colored with a mixture of rubescent and maroon brown, and the males have prominent, densely scaled palps. The following detailed description is based in part on information in Hasbrouck (1964). The recurved, elongated labial palp of the male is heavily scaled and extends over the head before terminating near the posterior end of the thorax. The head, thorax, upper portions of the legs, and labial palps are covered with a thick, elongated vestiture of reddish brown hair-like scales with paler dusting near the ends. Collectively, they create a rather distinctive 'helmeted' appearance. The antenna of the male is brown and extends beyond the palps to about one-fourth the wing length. The ground color of the forewing varies from reddish tan to various shades of reddish brown, with grayish, blackish, and reddish brown scales intermixed. A wide, maroon, reticulate pattern often overlays much of the wing. It tends to be centrally located and extends from near the base to near the wing terminus. Individuals vary, and the reticulate pattern is sometimes represented as a series of darker zig-zagging blotches, or is even further reduced and largely missing. The fringe is grayish to dark brown and tends to be slightly darker than the forewing color. The hindwing is dusky brown. The females are generally similar, but the helmeted vestiture is reduced, the palps project forward, and the dark reticulation on the forewings is more subdued or missing.
Wingspan: 36 mm, males (Hasbrouck, 1964)
Adult Structural Features: Hasbrouck (1964) has detailed descriptions and illustrations of the male genitalia. He also notes that A. plumifrontellus is related to a group of species that all have elongate labial palps, setose eyes, laminate antennae, a bifid uncus, and paired gnathos. It may be easily distinguished by its harpes, each of which bears a large and prominent costal process overlapping the cucullus. This process causes the cucullus of the harpe to appear as a double or divided structure.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larval life history is undocumented.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Acrolophus plumifrontella is found across a large swath of the eastern and central US. The range extends from New Hampshire and Connecticut southward to southern Florida, and westward to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. This species occurs statewide in North Carolina.
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)

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Flight Comments: Adults have been documented from February through November in areas outside of North Carolina, with a seasonal peak in June and July. As of 2020, our records extend from early June to early August, with peak activity in June and July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The specific habitat requirements are unknown due to the lack of information on the larval life history. We have records from both residential neighborhoods and more natural areas.
Larval Host Plants: Robinson et al. (2010) listed strawberries (Fragaria) as a host, but we are uncertain of the source of this information.
Observation Methods: The adults visit lights.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [S4S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This is a common and widespread species in the eastern US and appears to be secure.

 Photo Gallery for Acrolophus plumifrontella - Eastern Grass Tubeworm Moth

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

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-29
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Lior Carlson on 2021-07-23
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-07-19
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-07-17
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-17
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-16
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-15
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-14
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-09
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-08
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-06
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-06-27
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-06-27
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-06-27
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-06-24
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-06-24
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-19
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-06-14
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-06-08
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-05-31
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Lior Carlson on 2020-07-25
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2020-07-22
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-07-21
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-07-21
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-07-11
Brunswick Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-07-02
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-07-02
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-06-30
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-06-27
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-21
Guilford Co.
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