Moths of North Carolina
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7 NC Records

Basicladus celibata (Jones, 1922) - No Common Name

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Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: PsychidaeSubfamily: PsychinaeTribe: [Psychini]P3 Number: 300021.00 MONA Number: 451.00 MONA Synonym: Basicladus celibatus
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.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Jones, 1922; Davis 1964Technical Description, Immature Stages: Jones, 1922                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The adult males resemble a smaller, slender version of B. tracyi. The following description is based on those of Jones (1922) and Davis (1964). Both the forewing and hindwing are very broad, evenly scaled, and brownish fuscous to brownish black. The apical angle and outer margin of both are strongly rounded, and the scales of the discal cell on the forewing are very slender and hairlike, with acute tips. The vestiture of the head, thorax and abdomen is light brown and composed of about equal numbers of brown and pale whitish hairs that are long and erect. The antenna has 23 to 24 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 males are very similar to B. tracyi, but smaller and more slender, with no overlap in size (wing expanse only 10-12.5 mm for B. celibatus versus 16-19 mm B. tracyi). The females have not been described, but presumably are grub-like in shape as described for B. tracyi.
Wingspan: 10.5-12.5 mm (Jones, 1921; Davis, 1964)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable only by close inspection of structural features or by DNA analysis.
Immatures and Development: Jones (1922) observed numerous cases in Florida of late-instar male larvae that were attached to tree trunks. The cases of the final instar are roughly cylindrical, 11-15 mm in length, and 2-3 mm in diameter. Each consists of a silk tube that is overlaid with thin flakes of pine bark and a few short bits of dry pine-needles or fine grass-stems. These are irregularly applied longitudinally, and do not project far beyond the extremity of the case. The late-instar larvae are whitish and about 9 mm long, with a head width of 0.9 mm. The thoracic plates are dark brown with narrow longitudinal white lines. The head is dark brown with the front white and with three oblique white bars on each epicranium. The pupae are about 6 mm long and dull amber brown, and the pupal stage lasted about four weeks. Jones (1922) provides illustrations and detailed descriptions of the larvae and pupae. Jones (1922) observed large numbers of late-instar larvae at a Florida site in mid-May that were climbing up to 1.5 m high on tree trunks to pupate. All of the reared adults were males, which suggests that the females pupate on ground vegetation. Where oaks and pines grew in close proximity, the oaks were preferred as climbing sites. The pupal stage last about a month. The late-instar larvae appear to overwinter and resume feeding with the spring warm-up before pupating in May.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from close inspection of specimens or by DNA analysis.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Basicladus celibatus is restricted to the southeastern US where it occurs from coastal North Carolina southward to Florida and westward to Louisiana and Arkansas. As of 2020, our records are all from the extreme southeastern part of the state.
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)

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Flight Comments: This species appears to be univoltine with most adults flying in May and June. As of 2020, our one specimen is from early July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The preferred habitats are poorly documented.
Larval Host Plants: There is one record of larvae feeding on a blueberry (Vaccinium sp.). Davis (1964) surmised that the larvae are polyphagous like most psychids and feed low-growing plants. Robinson et al. (2010) list pine and oak, but we are unsure of the source of these records.
Observation Methods: The adults appear to only occasionally visit lights. Larvae have been found crawling up trees and other vegetation in early summer shortly before pupating, so this may be a productive way to locate local populations.
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 is a seemingly uncommon to rare species throughout most of its range.