Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
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Basicladus Members:
11 NC Records

Basicladus tracyi (Jones, 1911) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: PsychidaeSubfamily: PsychinaeTribe: [Psychini]P3 Number: 300020.00 MONA Number: 450.00
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. Basicladus is a small genus with only two recognized species.
Species Status: Jones (1921) recognized Psyche cacocnemos as a distinct species from P. tracyi, but Davis (1964) treated these as a single species that is now recognized as Basicladus tracyi.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Davis (1964)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Jones (1921)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The males of this species are light brown throughout with strongly rounded wing tips. The antenna has 28-34 segments, is broadly bipectinate, and gradually decreases in width to the apex. The pectinations arise basally from each segment, and the sensory hairs are erect, very slender, and approximately 4x the diameter of the pectination in length (Davis, 1964). The legs are unarmed and the forelegs are the longest. The wings are evenly scaled and fuscous, and the apical angle and outer margin of both wings are strongly rounded. The scales of the discal cell on the forewing are very slender and hairlike, and have acute tips. The body is robust and densely hairy. The vesture consists mostly of light brown hairs with a slight admixture of grayish white. The abdomen has the caudal segments somewhat widely tufted laterally. The adult females are wingless with a grub-like form and about 11 mm long (Jones, 1921). The chitinized dorsal portions of the thoracic segments are pale straw-yellow, and the abdominal band of downy hair is very pale, dull fawn color. The females live in cases that are 25-30 mm long. They are composed of silk and have sections of grass or sedge blades applied longitudinally in overlapping fashion (Davis, 1964). The width of the case is variable depending on material that is used, but most are 6-8 mm wide. Male B. celibatus are very similar, but smaller with no overlap in size (wing expanse only 10-12.5 mm for B. celibatus versus 16-19 mm B. tracyi).
Wingspan: 16-19 mm (Davis, 1964)
Adult Structural Features: Davis (1964) has a description and illustration of the male 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 cases similar to those of the adult females. The eggs are laid in late spring or early summer. The last instar overwinters and the larvae resume feeding for a short period in the spring. The larvae climb on trees, shrubs, or other vertical supports just before pupating (Jones, 1911). Last instar larvae that were observed by Jones (1922) were 15-20 mm long (width of head = 2.1 mm). The final-instar larvae are pale dull grayish brown. The head and the strongly chitinized thoracic segments are dark brown with white markings. The markings continue less conspicuously on the setal plates of the immediately succeeding abdominal segments, then fade out caudally. The pupae are dark chestnut brown and 10-11 mm long.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: The range extends from Coastal Plain habitats in North Carolina to Florida, then westward to Mississippi and eastern Louisiana (Davis, 1964). Isolated records for eastern Tennessee and West Virginia are questionable. As of 2020, all of our records are from extreme southeastern North Carolina.
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: Davis (1964) characterized this as an essentially spring-emerging species, and Brou (2009) found that a population in Louisiana was single-brooded with most in flight from late-May through late-June (N = 71 males). MPG shows records from April through June, then again in September through October, which suggest the possibility of double brooding in at least some southern populations. However, the source and status (females/ larvae?) of the late-season records are unknown. As of 2020, all of our records are from April through late-July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Jones (1911, 1922) noted that the larvae are typically found in wet, sunny places on sedges, grasses, and rushes, and occasionally on low growing herbaceous plants and shrubs. Our records are from pine savannas and flatwoods in the Coastal Plain.
Larval Host Plants: The known hosts include the flower petals of Pale Pitcherplant (Sarracenia alata), along with unspecified grasses, sedges, and rushes. Jones (1911) noted that grasses seem to be the preferred food at a Mississippi site, but several larvae were seen devouring the tender, young petals of Sarracenia. At other sites in the Southeast the larvae fed on sedges, grasses, and rushes, and occasionally on low growing herbaceous plants and shrubs (Jones, 1922). - View
Observation Methods: The males are attracted to lights, and the cases with larvae can be found on appropriate host plants.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [S2S3]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is seemingly uncommon to rare in much of its range.

 Photo Gallery for Basicladus tracyi - No common name

Photos: 2

Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-07-24
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2016-05-28
Cabarrus Co.