Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFPsychidae Members: 2 NC Records

Oiketicus abbotii Grote, 1880 - Abbot's Bagworm Moth


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: PsychidaeSubfamily: OiketicinaeTribe: [Oiketicini]P3 Number: 300025.00 MONA Number: 454.00
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. Oiketicus is a small genus with around 14 recognized species that are mostly found in the Americas. Three species occur in the US.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Leckie and Beadle (2018)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Davis (1964)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Davis (1964)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a distinctive species that is difficult to confused with others. The wings of the males are elongate and uniformly scaled, and the forewing is mostly light brown in the anterior half, and contrastingly dark fuscous on the distal half. The lower margin of the dark apical area is straight and terminates before reaching the inner margin. There is a white-edged black patch in the median area, and a dark basal streak near the inner margin that extends to about one-fifth the wing length. The vestiture of the head, thorax, and abdomen varies from light brown to fuscous. The antenna usually has 28-32 segments, and the outer two-fifths are strongly biserrate to serrate (Davis, 1964). The wingless females are 24-30 mm long and live in large cases that are 60-70 mm long and 13-20 mm wide. The general appearance of the case depends on the particular host plant and substances used for construction (Davis, 1964). When small twigs are incorporated into the structure, these are placed transversally in a circular pattern around the case, and silk is rarely used externally. A thin sheet of grayish silk may be present when on acacias, and the sacks are often largely bare when on mangroves. On oaks, the bags are usually heavily covered with projecting leaf fragments. The bags of this species are easily confused with those of Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis, but the patterning on the head and thoracic plates of the larvae is distinctive for both species.
Wingspan: 28-37 mm for males (Davis, 1964)
Adult Structural Features: Davis (1964) has illustrations of the male and female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Although the bags of this species are commonly observed, very little detailed information is available on the larval life history and ecology. Local populations appear to be single-brooded with a peak in seasonal activity during the warmest summer months. The larvae presumably overwinter and continue growing the following spring and summer. The head and thorax of the larvae are dark brown to blackish and boldly marked with a series of equally-spaced, longitudinal, white stripes.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Oiketicus abbotii is found in the southeastern US from North Carolina south to Florida, and westward along the Gulf Coast states to eastern Texas. As of 2020, we have two historical records from the eastern Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Most if not all of the records in iNaturalist and other citizen science sites of bagworms are likely those of Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis.
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)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Local populations appear to be single brooded. Brou (2018) observed adults from April though October in Louisiana, with a peak in seasonal activity from mid-July through mid-September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae are polyphagous and can be found in a variety of forested and non-forested communities that range from mangrove thickets to dry scrub.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are polyphagous and use a wide variety of hosts, including both conifers and hardwoods. Heppner (2003) listed over 45 genera that are used in Florida and Davis (1964) list numerous taxa based on specimen records. Examples of some of the genera that are used include Cupressus, Juniperus, Pinus, Acer, Acacia, Aesculus, Annona, Bobinia, Celtis, Cornus, Liquidambar, Lonicera, Morella, Quercus, Platanus, Rhizophora, Rosa, Salix, Smilax and Solanum.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights and the bags are easily spotted on vegetation. The larvae should be carefully checked to verify that they are not those of Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis.
Wikipedia
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 three historical records dating back before 1964.