Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFTineidae Members: 91 NC Records

Acrolophus popeanella (Clemens, 1859) - Clemens' Grass Tubeworm Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: [Acrolophinae]Tribe: [Acrolophini]P3 Number: 300060.00 MONA Number: 373.00
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: Forbes, 1903                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is one of our largest Acrolophus species. 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 labial palp of the female is much shorter and projects forward. The head, thorax, and labial palps are covered with a thick, elongated vestiture of brown hair-like scales that create a 'helmeted' appearance. The antennae are brown and project just beyond the labial palps. The forewing ground color varies from brownish gray to brownish-luteous or reddish-brown. The patterning is variable, but many specimens have two longitudinal streaks that are pale yellow and interrupted by a dark brown to blackish blotch. The first runs about one-third inward from the inner margin. It begins at the wing base and is interrupted by a dark blotch just before it terminates at about two-thirds the wing length. The streak is narrowly margined with black along much of its length. The second pale streak is near the middle of the wing and begins at about one-half. It is interrupted with a dark blotch before terminating at about four-fifths the wing length. Specimens are occasionally found that lack most of the pale yellow component of the streaks, but retain the two dark brown to blackish blotches. A row of faint to boldly marked dark spots are sometimes evident along the costa that continue onto the terminal fringe as a series of dark streaks. The ground color of the cilia are similar in color to the forewing ground, and the hindwing is brownish-yellow.
Wingspan: 25.5-38 mm (Hasbrouck, 1964)
Adult Structural Features: Hasbrouck (1964) has detailed descriptions and illustrations of the male genitalia. The antennae and palps are similar to those of A. plumifrontella and A. mortipennella. The male antenna is serrate in appearance (simple in the female), but does not have complete rings of raised scales. The eyes are setose (Hasbrouck, 1964).
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 (Forbes, 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 rather than the roots. 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 are dusky gray with the head and first thoracic segment shiny black and with large, irregular, shining white to dusky areas on the thorax (Forbes, 1890). They overwinter and pupate the following spring.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Acrolophus popeanella is a wide-ranging species that occurs from northern South America northward through Central America and Mexico to the US. It ranges throughout most of the central and eastern US, from Vermont and New Hampshire southward to Florida, and then westward to Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska. This species occurs statewide in North Carolina, except for the higher 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: The adults have been observed from February through November in areas outside of North Carolina, with a peak in activity from July through September. As of 2020, our records are from mid-June through mid-September. Local populations in North Carolina appear to be univoltine, with a peak in breeding during July and August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Population prefer open habitats that support grasses, clovers, and perhaps other host species. This species seems to do well in disturbed areas such as agricultural lands and urban environments.
Larval Host Plants: The known hosts include the roots and young shoots of corn and perhaps other grasses. Robinson et al. (2010) reported that the larvae also feed on Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is widespread and common in most areas of the state.

 Photo Gallery for Acrolophus popeanella - Clemens' Grass Tubeworm Moth

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

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-10-15
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-30
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-25
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2021-08-22
Sampson Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-21
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-08-19
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-14
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2021-08-13
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2021-08-13
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-13
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2021-08-11
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-10
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-09
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-08-06
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-08-06
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-06
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-06
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-06
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-06
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-05
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-08-03
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Lior Carlson, Richard Teper on 2021-08-03
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-07-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-07-27
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Lior Carlson on 2021-07-23
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-09
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-06-29
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-09-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-08-26
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-08-23
Orange Co.
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