Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFTineidae Members: 2 NC Records

Phereoeca uterella (Walsingham, 1897) - Household Casebearer Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: TineinaeTribe: [Tineini]P3 Number: 300141.00 MONA Number: 390.00
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based primarily on that of Walsingham (1897). The head, tuft and thorax are light fawn-colored. The antenna is filiform and brown, and about as long as the wings. The labial palp is short and brown. The forewing ground color is yellowish fawn, with minute fuscous speckling throughout. The forewing has several blackish blotches or spots. These include a costal spot near the base that is partly connected with a spot lying obliquely beneath it on the fold, two spots at the middle of the wing with the dorsal one slightly more anterior, and a larger retangular spot on the costal half at around two-thirds. The cilia are fawn-gray. The hindwing is pale gray with the fringe yellowish gray, while the abdomen is yellowish gray. The Legs are yellowish gray and the tarsi has obscure darker blotches. Aiello (1979) noted that the females are grayer than the males, and are slightly larger with more prominent spotting. The antennae are held back over the body and vibrated constantly. Niditinea fuscella is superficially similar but has less defined spotting and shorter antennae that do not reach the wing tips.
Wingspan: 7 to 9 mm for males and 10 to 13 mm for females (Aiello, 1979).
Forewing Length: 5.5-6.6 mm (Powell and Opler, 2009)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae construct flat, oval-shaped cases that narrow on both ends and resemble the shape of pumpkin seeds. The case has an opening on both ends. The inside is lined with silk and the outside usually has fine particles attached to it such as sand, arthropod remains, wool fibers, or other organic debris. The larva enlarges the case after molting by making slits along the edges and adding new silk and material. A fully developed larva has a case 8 to 14 mm long and 3 to 5 mm wide (Aiello, 1979; Villanueva-Jiménez and Fasulo, 1996). The fully developed larva is about 7 mm long. It has a dark brown head, dark thoracic plates, and a white body. Larvae drag the cases around, and they are often conspicuous on the inside or exterior walls of buildings. They also aggregate in or below spider webs. The larvae are scavengers and detritivores that feed on dead insects, wool carpeting, old spider webs, and other organic debris. Upon encountering food (dead insects, animal hair), the larva chops it into pieces and pulls it into its case (Aiello, 1979). Feeding takes place only within the case. Pupation also occurs within the case, and a single generation from hatching to adult emergence require 2-3 months or more.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Phereoeca uterella is thought to be native to Australia or Africa, but is now found worldwide in association with human dwellings and human habitation. It seems to do best in hot, humid environments where the larvae are less vulnerable to desiccation when foraging. Populations appear to be restricted to southern latitudes in the US where they are common in Florida, the Gulf Coast region, and southern California. As of 2020, we have only two records for 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)

Click on graph to enlarge
Immature 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: Local populations are multivoltine and have been found in the US during every month of the year. In warm locales such as southern Florida there are probably three or four broods per year, but undoubtedly fewer at more northern latitudes. As of 2020, our two records are from August and September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is strongly associated with homes and outbuildings where the larvae are commonly seen on or near spider webs in garages or other buildings. They frequently crawl on exterior and interior walls where they can sometimes becomes household pests (Hetrick, 1957).
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are detritus-feeders and scavengers and do not require a specific plant host.
Observation Methods: Most records are based on observations of larvae within their distinctive cases. The adults appears to only occasionally visit lights.
Wikipedia
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 is an exotic species that can sometimes become a household pest and does not merit protection.

 Photo Gallery for Phereoeca uterella - Household Casebearer Moth

Photos: 5

Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2017-09-13
Scotland Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2017-09-13
Scotland Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2017-09-13
Scotland Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-08-20
Pender Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-08-20
Pender Co.
Comment: