Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFTineidae Members: 7 NC Records

Tinea pellionella complex - No Common Name


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: TineinaeTribe: [Tineini]P3 Number: 0.00 MONA Number: 405.01
Comments: The T. pellionella species complex consists of 11 species of case-making clothes moths that are found worldwide (Robinson, 1979). The members of the complex are indistinguishable based on external morphology and can only be recognized by genitalia. They all are native to the Old World, but many have been spread around the world by humans where they feed on clothing, carpeting, fur, hair, skin, bird feathers and other sources of keratin. At least three members of the complex have been introduced to North America (T. translucens; T. dubiella; T. pellionella), and are treated here as members of the T. pellionella complex.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Robinson (1979)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Robinson (1979)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Members of the Tinea pellionella complex are rather drab species. The head and tuft vary from rusty brown to tannish brown or dull yellowish and are often lighter than the forewings (Forbes, 1923). The antenna and palps is dark gray to blackish. The forewing, cilia, and legs are uniformly brown to yellowish brown. Three dark spots are often present that include a matched pair at about one-half the wing length, and a third at about four-fifths that is near the middle. In many specimens only the spot nearer to the inner margin is present at one-half.
Wingspan: 10-15 mm (Forbes, 1923).
Forewing Length: 5-8 mm TL (Leckie and Beadle, 2018).
Adult Structural Features: Robinson (1979) has descriptions and illustrations of the genitalia of all 11 species in the T. pellionella complex.
Immatures and Development: Larvae of members of this complex feed on bird feathers in the wild, but have long since expanded their feeding niche to include manmade products such as carpeting, clothing, and furs that contain wool or other sources of keratin. The larvae are whitish with a dark head and collar (Forbes, 1923). They construct cylindrical cases that are made of silk and particles of the food substrate such as wool fibers, and forage with the bodies partially extended out of the case. The larvae typically pass through 6-8 instars before pupating in their cases. They can become significant indoor pests where they damage carpeting, wool sweaters, tapestries, taxidermy mounts and other objects that are rich in keratin.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Members of this group have been spread worldwide by humans as a result of the fur trade and global shipment of wool-based clothing. Tinea pellionella and its close relatives occur primarily in Nearctic and Palearctic regions, as well as Australia and New Zealand. As of 2020, we have only a few records for the state from the Piedmont and lower mountains. This species is a common pest throughout the state and often goes unreported by naturalists.
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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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: Adults have been observed during every month of the year in different areas of the range, with a seasonal peak from April through August. As of 2020, our records extend from June to October.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Characteristically found in close association with humans.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are detritus feeders and do not have specific plant hosts.
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally appear at lights, but damaged carpeting or clothing often is packed with larval cases.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SNA
State Protection:
Comments: This is a group of exotic pests that does not warrant protection.

 Photo Gallery for Tinea pellionella complex - No common name

Photos: 4

Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2021-09-04
Mecklenburg Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2021-09-04
Mecklenburg Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2021-09-04
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2013-06-19
Wake Co.
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