Moths of North Carolina
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4 NC Records

Lyonetia latistrigella Walsingham, 1882 - Rhododendron Leaf Miner

Superfamily: Yponomeutoidea Family: LyonetiidaeSubfamily: LyonetiinaeTribe: [Lyonetiini]P3 Number: 360196.00 MONA Number: 470.00
Comments: The genus Lyonetia includes six described species in North American that belongs to a family of about 200 very small, leaf-mining moths.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Walsingham (1882); Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Eiseman, 2019.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based on Walsingham (1882) and Forbes (1923). The head, tufts, and palps are white. The antenna is brownish except for a white basal joint, and is as long or longer than the forewing. The thorax and ground color of the forewing is white. The forewing has a bold, oblique fascia that extends from the middle of inner margin to three-fourths of the way out on the costa. Beyond this is a large ferruginous patch that darkens dorsally. Associated with the patch are several small white streaks that have bronzy brown on the anterior margin. One or two occur dorsally, and three costally. At the apex there is a large round black spot, and the cilia often have one or two short dark lines. The front leg is often solid brown on the tarsal segments, while the remaining legs are whitish, with more limited brown banding at the tarsal joints. This distinctively marked species is difficult to confuse with any other.
Wingspan: Around 9 mm (Forbes, 1923).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae mine the expanding leaves of their hosts and form full-depth, linear-blotch mines. Mine shape and size can vary depending on the host plant, but all typically have a long linear track that abruptly expands into a full-depth blotch. The mine on Rosebay Rhododendron begins as a very fine black line that is about 3 cm long, then continues as a wider linear mine for about the same distance. It then abruptly enlarges to an elongate, brownish blotch that is 4 cm long or more and averages about 5 mm wide. The larva exits when mature, and its naked pupa is suspended by a few silken threads stretched across a bent leaf (Forbes, 1923; Eiseman, 2019).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Lyonetia latistrigella is found in eastern North America and as a possible introduced disjunct in California. In the East, widely scattered populations have been found in Quebec and the northeastern states, to as far south as North Carolina. As of 2020, our records are from the lower elevations of the mountains and Pilot Mountain in the Piedmont.
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 flight season is poorly documented due to the scarcity of records for this species. Our records extend from March through October.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are dependent on ericaceous plants for reproduction and are generally found in the vicinity of rhododendrons, huckleberries, and other hosts. These typically occur in forested settings with acidic soils.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are polyphagous and feed on members of the Ericaceae, with at least 14 species in 5 genera as documented hosts (Maier, 1995). At least nine species of Rhododendron serve as hosts, including ornamental hybrids, and well as native species such as Florida Flame Azalea (R. austrinum), Carolina Rhododendron (R. carolinianum), Catawba Rhododendron (R. catawbiense), Rosebay Rhododendron (R. maximum), Pink Azalea (R. periclymenoides), and Swamp Azalea (R. viscosum). Other native hosts are Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Dangleberry (G. frondosa), Maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina) and Mountain Fetterbush (Pieris floribunda; Maier 1995, Eiseman 2019).
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights; we also recommend searching for the leaf mines on the young, fresh leaves of rhododendrons or other hosts.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Rhododendron Thickets and Balds
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: We have only four records for this species as of 2020, which suggests that it is uncommon throughout the mountains and western Piedmont. We need additional information on its distribution and abundance before we can accurately assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Lyonetia latistrigella - Rhododendron Leaf Miner

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-03-19
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-03-19
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2013-08-26
Surry Co.
Comment: BugGuide record: Photo#874564.