Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
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Prochalia Members:
2 NC Records

Prochalia pygmaea Barnes & McDunnough, 1913 - No Common Name

Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: PsychidaeSubfamily: PsychinaeTribe: [Psychini]P3 Number: 300009.00 MONA Number: 439.00
Comments: The family Psychidae contains as many as 1,350 species that are found worldwide. The females of many species are flightless, and the larvae of all species live in constructed cases or bags, hence the name bagworms. Prochalia is a monotypic genus that is restricted to the southeastern US.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Davis (1964)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Barnes and McDunnough (1913)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The male of this species has distinctive broad, rounded wings and broadly bipectinate antennae that have 18-19 segments. The head, thorax, abdomen and wings are all uniform brownish fuscous (Barnes and McDunnough, 1913; Davis, 1964).The fore tibia has a long spine (epiphysis), and the middle tibia a single apical spur. The posterior tibia is unarmed. The wingless females live in smooth, granulose silk cases that are covered with tiny fragments of sand and debris and are 13-16 mm in length (Davis, 1964). The females are vermiform with the legs and all other external appendages vestigial. The head and dorsal area of the thorax are slightly sclerotized. The males of this species closely resembles those of Zamopsyche commentella, which has 11 veins in the forewing versus 12 in Prochalia pygmaea. Davis (1964) noted that the wings of the males are broader and usually shorter than those of Z. commentella, while the discal scales of the forewing are relatively broad and oblanceolate with acute apices.
Wingspan: 12-15 mm (Davis, 1964)
Forewing Length: 6-7 mm TL for wingless females.
Adult Structural Features: Davis (1964) has descriptions of the male and female genitalia and an illustration of the female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae live in silk cases that are narrow, cylindrical tubes that are mixed with excrement and more or less covered with small pieces of lichen and debris. They are up to 12 mm in length. Barnes and McDunnough (1913) observed them on the trunks of orange trees, where they were feeding on lichens that covered the bark.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Prochalia pygmaea is found throughout Florida, then northward along the coast to southeastern North Carolina. It extends westward along the Gulf Coast to Alabama and Mississippi, with one northern record from northern Mississippi. As of 2020, we have a single historical record from New Hanover Co.
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: The flight season is poorly documented because almost all records are for either larvae or flightless females.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The habitat requirements are poorly documented. The larvae appear to rely heavily on lichens on oaks and other hardwoods, and likely need humid microenvironments.
Larval Host Plants: Barnes and McDunnough (1913) reported that the larvae feed on lichens, including those that grow on the bark of oaks and commercial oranges (Citrus sinensis). - View
Observation Methods: The males appear to rarely visit lights and almost all records are based on finding the larvae or adult females in their cases.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SH
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We have only a single historical record for this largely subtropical species from before 1938.

 Photo Gallery for Prochalia pygmaea - No common name

Photos: 1

Recorded by: Steve Hall, Bo Sullivan, Jim Petranka on 2022-07-24
Moore Co.