Moths of North Carolina
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Tortricidia Members:
115 NC Records

Tortricidia testacea Packard, 1864 - Early Button Slug Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Zygaenoidea Family: LimacodidaeP3 Number: 660010.00 MONA Number: 4652.00
Comments: Members of the family Limacodidae have larvae that are known as 'slug caterpillars' due to their unusual movement that entails a high degree of contact with the substrate and the use of abdominal sucker-like appendages for movement. The tend to glide in slow motion across the substrate like a slug. Overwintering occurs in a cocoon that has a hatch-like lid that opens to allow the adult to eclose. This is one of three species in the genus Tortricidia that occur in North America, all of which are found in North Carolina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Dyar (1898); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Tortricidia testacea is the easiest of our three Tortricidia to identify, although like the others there can be considerable variation among individuals. The adults have broad forewings that are typically creamy-pink to pale orange, although some may appear reddish-orange or brown. They are distinguished by the broad, diffuse rusty-orange shading that runs diagonally from the mid-point of the inner margin to the apex. This feature can be absent on especially light-colored individuals and hard to distinguish on dark individuals. The head, palps, antennae, thorax and basal portion of the costa are also rusty-orange, and the forewing veins on the distal half are darker than the surrounding ground color. The hindwing varies from rusty-white to light rusty tan. Individuals typically rests with the abdomen curled up above the wings.
Wingspan: 15-26 mm (Covell, 1984).
Adult Structural Features: The male antennae are simple and the palps barely reach the front of the vertex. Males also have two pairs of spurs on the hind tibiae (Forbes, 1923).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on the leaves of deciduous hardwoods and appear to be single-brooded in most populations. Dyar (1898) noted that the females lay eggs singly on the undersides of leaves and that there are seven instars. The final instar spins a hard, compact, thin brown cocoon that resembles stiff cardboard. Overwintering occurs in the cocoon in the pre-pupal stage, followed by pupation in the spring and emergence of the adults shortly thereafter.

The late instars are smooth, light green, and broadly oval-shaped with a red-edged, reddish-brown cross-shaped mark on the dorsum. The lateral arms typically extend to or near the bottom edge of the body, which helps separate it from the similar T. flexuosa. The posterior arm of the cross-shaped mark often narrows, which causes the anterior and posterior arms to appear similar and helps to separate this species from the very similar T. pallida (Dyar, 1898; Wagner, 2005). The final instar is around 6.5-9.5 mm long.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Tortricidia testacea is broadly distributed in North America, including much of southern Canada from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island. It also occurs throughout most of the eastern US and in northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Scattered, isolated records are also known for Colorado, Utah, and South Dakota. The range in the eastern US extends from Maine southward to northern Florida, and westward to Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, Missouri, eastern Kansas, Illinois and Minnesota. This species occurs statewide in North Carolina, with the possible exception of the barrier islands.
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: the adults have been observed from February through September in different areas of the range, with a seasonal peak typically from May through July in most areas. As of 2023, we have records from early April through early August. Local populations appear to be univoltine in North Carolina, with a seasonal peak in April and May in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, and a few weeks later in the Blue Ridge.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are typically found in or near hardwood forests or forest edges as well as wooded residential neighborhoods. Our records come primarily from wet to mesic hardwood forests, including bottomland forests, pond and lakeshores, cove forests, and northern hardwoods.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are polyphagous and feed on the foliage of a variety of hardwoods, particularly those with smooth leaves that allow the larvae to closely contact the leaf surface (Dyar, 1898; Wagner, 2005; Heppner, 2007; Lill, 2008; Beadle and Leckie, 2012). The reported hosts include birches (Betula), hickories (Carya), chestnuts (Castanea), American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), American Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) and other oaks, and American Basswood (Tilia americana). - View
Observation Methods: The adult are attracted to blacklights. They have reduced mouthparts and may not feed; we do not have any records from bait or flowers.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 [S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species occurs widely across the state, occupying a broad set of hardwood forests, and making use of a large range of host plants, including many that are common. It therefore appears to be secure in North Carolina.

 Photo Gallery for Tortricidia testacea - Early Button Slug Moth

70 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: David George, Ed Corey on 2023-06-17
Avery Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2023-06-16
Avery Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Jeff Niznik on 2023-05-12
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2023-05-10
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Richard Teper, Carol Tingley, Tom Howard, Richard Stickney, Becky Watkins on 2023-05-06
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-05-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall, David George, Jeff Niznik on 2023-04-29
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-04-20
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2023-04-19
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2022-05-19
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2022-05-18
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-05-15
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-05-15
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-05-15
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-05-04
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-05-03
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka on 2022-05-02
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Niznik on 2022-05-02
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-04-30
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Niznik on 2022-04-22
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2021-05-23
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-05-21
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-05-20
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-05-20
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2021-05-19
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-05-17
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-05-10
Richmond Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-09
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-09
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-09
Buncombe Co.
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