Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
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View PDFTineidae Members:
Niditinea Members:
3 NC Records

Niditinea orleansella (Chambers, 1873) - No Common Name

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Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: TineinaeTribe: [Tineini]P3 Number: 300165.00 MONA Number: 412.00
Comments: The genus Niditinea has 14 described species that are thought to have originally had a Holarctic distribution (Robinson, 2009). Certain members of this genus (e.g., N. fuscella) have since been spread around the world by humans. We currently have three described species in the US. There appear to be at least three more undescribed species (Metz et al., 2018).
Species Status: Metz et al. (2018) found DNA-barcode evidence that shows there are at least three undescribed species of Niditinea in North America. Specimens that they determined by dissection to be N. orleansella (sensu stricto) belong to a group that are distinct from three other genetic clusters of specimens. These were identified as N. orleansella, as well as a cluster of European specimens identified as N. striolella. It is very likely that N. orleansella will eventually be split into two or more cryptic species.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Chambers (1873); Metz et al. (2018)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Metz et al. (2018)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based in part on the original description by Chambers (1873). The head and labial palp are sordid straw-colored, with the outer surface of the palp brown. The antenna is grayish yellow. The forewing ground color is pale yellowish and thickly dusted with fuscous scales, particularly on the apical third of the wing. A pair of dark spots is present at about one-half the wing length, with one spot above the costa and the other below the dorsal margin. A third spot that is slightly larger is present near the middle of the wing at about two-thirds the length. There is a checkered row of dark brown spots that extends posteriorly from about the apical fifth of the costa to the dorsal cilia, then continues along the wing tip and base of the adjoining fringe to the apex. From there it extends a short distance onto the dorsal margin before terminating.

Metz et al. (2018) noted that fresh specimens of our three Niditinea species usually can be identified by color alone. The scales of the head and dorsum of the thorax of N. sabroskyi tend towards reddish-orange, and the anal area of the forewing is less tinged with brown. The head and thoracic scales of N. orleansella tend to creamy-white with dark gray to black scales, and the anal area of the forewing is usually tinged with dark gray scales. The head and thoracic scales of N. fuscella are darker, and tend towards brown with dark brown scales. The anal area of the forewing is less differentiated, usually with a broad band or spot adjacent to the hind margin. Some specimens of N. fuscella closely resemble those of N. orleansella, so definitive identifications require the examination of genitalia.
Adult Structural Features: Metz et al. (2018) has descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable only by close inspection of structural features or by DNA analysis.
Immatures and Development: This species appears to specialize on exploiting Polistes wasp nests. Metz et al. (2018) noted that the larvae were found in a flying squirrel nest box. There were also five cases where adults were reared from abandoned Polistes nests, suggesting that this species shows a strong tendency to utilize wasp nests. Sourakov (2022) recently successfully reared numerous adults from two Polistes nests in Florida that also yielded numerous Chalcoela pegasalis adults. It is uncertain if the Niditinea were simply scavenging, or feeding on Polistes larvae or pupae, but scavenging seems most likely given what we know about other Niditinea species.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This species appears to be widespread in North America, but many of the older records that were not based on genitalia could be those of N. fuscella or even N. sabroskyi. Specimens that were identified by Metz et al. (2018) based on genitalia were from Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, but other sources (MPG) show a much broader distribution. As of 2020, we have only two site records; one from near the coast and a second from the mountains.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Most adult records from areas outside of North Carolina are from May through October. As of 2020, we have records from April on the coast and and July in the mountains.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations appear to be dependent on paper wasp nests for successful reproduction. These are often found on homes, buildings, and barns, but also in natural settings such as rock overhangs.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae do not feed on living plant material, and are thought to specialize to a large extent on feeding within paper wasp nests. Being tineids, they probably feed on dead organic matter rather than attack the living larvae like Chalcoela iphitalis does. - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and the adults have been successfully reared from paper wasp nests.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: As of 2020, we have only two site records, suggesting that this species is uncommon in North Carolina. Additional information is needed on its distribution, abundance, and food resources before its conservation status can be assessed.