Moths of North Carolina
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13 NC Records

Platynota stultana Walsingham, 1884 - No Common Name

Superfamily: Tortricoidea Family: TortricidaeSubfamily: TortricinaeTribe: SparganothiniP3 Number: 620449.00 MONA Number: 3736.00
Species Status: Platynota stultana is an introduced species that is a significant pest on several agricultural crops.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Immature Stages: MacKay (1962); Powell and Brown (2012)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based on those of Powell and Brown (2012) and Gilligan and Epstein (2014; TortAI). In this species the head, palps, and antennae are gray, while the thorax varies from gray to reddish. The ground color and patterning of the forewing differs between the sexes. In males, the forewing is typically dark brown on the basal half to two-thirds and golden brown on the remainder of the wing. In females, the forewing is a more uniform golden-brown, reddish-brown, tan or yellowish and the markings are usually less distinct. Both the males and females have a posteriorly oblique dark-brown band that begins near the middle of the costa and slants rearward towards the inner margin. It often terminates or fades near the middle of the wing. A similarly colored costal patch is present before the apex at about three-fourths. Both marks are often obscured by the dark ground color, particularly in the males. Both sexes have a series of raised scale ridges that are most evident on the terminal third of the wing. The labial palps are extremely elongated in both sexes, which is helpful in sorting them out from similar species. Platynota stultana is smaller than P. rostrana and P. flavedana, which are often similar in color and patterning. Unlike those species, the costal fold of the males is less than half the length of the forewing (Powell and Brown, 2012).
Forewing Length: 4.5–6.0 mm for males and 6.5–7.5 mm for females (Powell and Brown, 2012)
Adult Structural Features: Powell and Brown (2012) and Gilligan and Epstein (2014; TortAI) have illustrations and descriptions of the male and female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: This species has been studied intensely due to its impact on crops. The following summary of the life cycle is based on those of Powell and Brown (2012) and Hoover and Biddinger (2014). The eggs are laid in masses that contain around 100 eggs. The eggs hatch in about a week and the hatchlings disperse to other parts of the plant or to other plants, sometimes by ballooning. They seek out protective places on a plant such as abandoned shelters, and first feed externally on the leaves or buds. The later instars feed within a shelter that they construct by rolling, folding, or webbing leaves together with silk. Pupation occurs within the shelters and the adults emerge after about two weeks to start a new generation. Populations can have 2-6 generations per year depending on the climate and growing conditions. The later instars of the last generation overwinter in webbed nests made of folded leaves of either the host or of surrounding vegetation, and the first-generation adults emerge following the spring warm-up.

The late instar larvae are 12-15 mm long and have a cream-colored, translucent abdomen. The head and prothoracic shield are yellowish brown. The posterolateral margins on the prothoracic shield are shaded with dark brown in some individuals, and an anal comb is present with 5-6 teeth (Gilligan and Epstein, 2014; TortAI).
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Platynota stultana was described from Sonora, Mexico, and may have been native in Arizona (Powell and Brown, 2012). It was introduced to several regions of the US, including California and the eastern US, and has subsequently spread widely at southern latitudes. It is now found throughout much of central and western California where it is a significant agricultural pest. Elsewhere, it has been observed from Maryland southward to southern Florida and westward across the Gulf Coast states to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Colorado. This species is also established in Hawaii and Europe. As of 2023, our records are all from the eastern Piedmont and southern Coastal Plain.
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 are present nearly year-round in California and Florida, and mostly from April through October farther north. Populations are multivoltine in many areas, with as many as five or six highly overlapping generations per year in California (Powell and Brown, 2012). As of 2023, our records are restricted to the late summer and fall months from late August through mid-October.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is commonly associated with agricultural crops and greenhouse operations, but also uses natural habitats such as coastal pine forests. Most of our records are from xeric habitats in the Coastal Plain.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae are highly polyphagous and feed on a wide range of trees, shrubs, and forbs, including numerous crop species (Heppner, 2007; MacKay, 1962; Powell, 1983, 2006; Powell and Brown, 2012; Robinson et al., 2010). They have been recorded using species in at least 28 families of vascular plants, including a large number of agricultural and ornamental host plants. Examples include apples, celery, lettuce, carnations, sugar beets, alfalfa, beans, avocados, asparagus, cotton, corn, strawberry, oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, tomatoes, blackberries and raspberries, grapes, blackeyed peas and others (Powell and Brown, 2012). Native plants that are used are rather poorly documented but include ragweeds (Ambrosia), amaranths (Amaranthus), Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), junipers (Juniperus), Mexican palo-verde (Parkinsonia aculeata), pines (Pinus), mints (Mentha), groundsels (Packera), gooseberries (Ribes) and various grasses (Poaceae). - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights and are commonly collected in agricultural fields using pheromone traps.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: [GNR] SNA
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species may have been native to Arizona, but became adapted to feeding on a wide variety of crop species and has now spread far beyond its point of origin (Powell and Brown, 2012). It is considered to be an exotic invader in North Carolina.

 Photo Gallery for Platynota stultana - No common name

Photos: 8

Recorded by: Mark Basinger on 2023-10-05
Wilson Co.
Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2022-10-05
New Hanover Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall, Bo Sullivan, Jim Petranka, and Becky Elkin on 2022-09-26
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2022-08-29
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-10-13
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2021-10-03
Moore Co.
Comment: Female
Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2021-10-03
Moore Co.
Comment: Male. Note costal folds
Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2020-10-13
Moore Co.