Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFBucculatricidae Members:
Bucculatrix Members:
4 NC Records

Bucculatrix cuneigera Meyrick, 1919 - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: BucculatricidaeP3 Number: 330016.00 MONA Number: 499.00
Comments: Bucculatrix is a large genus of small leaf-mining moths, with around 300 species worldwide. A total of 103 Nearctic species have been described, and many others will likely be described in the future. Braun (1963) covered 99 species in her monograph, and four additional Nearctic species have been described since then.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Braun (1963, p. 56)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Braun (1963)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a minute black and white moth. The face and thorax are white and the tuft on top of the head is either entirely white or with a variably brown center. The ground color of the forewing is dark blackish-brown to sooty black. Several streaks of white are present, but none form complete bands across the wing. A white, longitudinal, streak extends from the base of the wing close to the costa. It gradually widens, but often forms a sharp point towards the middle of the wing. Two additional streaks extend obliquely down and outward from the costa to the middle of the wing; one at about two-thirds and the second at about four-fifths. The inner margin has a large, posterior oblique streak that begins at about one-fourth and terminates near the mid-wing just before the first costal streak. One or two smaller streaks are present at the base of the dorsal fringe that are sometimes represented as one or two small spots. In addition to the white streaks, a white wedge is present at the apex that is followed on the outside by a black line or dark apical spot. The hindwings are dark gray to brownish gray (Braun, 1963).
Wingspan: 9-10.5 mm (Braun, 1963)
Adult Structural Features: The male and female genitalia, along with associated scale tufts and patches, are distinctive and are described and illustrated by Braun (1963). The following are her verbatim descriptions. Males: harpes with heavy conical setae at the apex; socii with some short, some longer setae; subscaphium strongly sclerotized; aedeagus slender, entrance of penis elongate; vinculum narrow, emarginate. Scales of scale sac elongate. Females: ostium unspecialized, ductus bursae forked in segment 7 at inception of ductus seminalis, the forks uniting again just before entering bursa copulatrix; signum ring wide ventrally, narrow dorsally.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae mine the leaves of asters. The following is based on Braun's (1963) detailed observations of larvae on Short's Aster in Ohio. The larva makes a long, contorted, mine that is sometimes spiral. In early November, the larva spins a flat, circular, yellow wintering cocoon in a slight enlargement at the end of the mine. The overwintering cocoon is similar in appearance to the moulting cocoon of other species, but of denser texture. In March of the following year, the larva leaves the cocoon via a circular opening and bores into a growing shoot just below the tip. It hollows out the stem, which kills the top of the shoot. The larva feeds downward, usually eating out the contents of the stem for about 2-3 cm. When full-grown, it escapes by a circular hole near the lowest part of the burrow and spins a cocoon. The cocoon is white or pale yellowish, with seven or eight low ridges. It is spun on dead stems and twigs lying near the food plant, but apparently never on the food plant itself. A single plant may have many mines, with as many as six on a single leaf. Typically only four or five of these can survive on the few shoots of the plant in the spring.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Bucculatrix cuneigera is found in eastern North America, with its distribution centered in the northeastern states and adjoining areas of Canada. Braun (1963) examined specimens from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and North Carolina. Additional state records include New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island (BugGuide). As of 2021, we have three site records from both lower and higher elevations in the mountains.
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: Records from outside of North Carolina are from May through July. As of 2021, all of our records are from June and July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The preferred habitats are poorly defined. This species commonly uses Short's Aster farther north, which is found in mesic to upland forests, rocky open woodlands and slopes, and woodland borders. Habitats were not described at the sites where this species was recorded in North Carolina. We suspect that this species uses upland hardwoods in North Carolina, but this needs to be confirmed.
Larval Host Plants: This species specializes on asters (Symphyotrichum spp.). Short's Aster (S. shortii) was used at Braun's (1963) study sites in Ohio, but other Symphyotrichum species are likely used elsewhere given that this is a Midwestern species that is absent from most of the range of B. cuneigera. - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and the larval mines are often conspicuous in the autumn.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [SU]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We currently have very few records for this primarily northern species in North Carolina. More information is needed on its distribution, host plants, and habitat associations here in this state before its conservation status can be assessed.

 Photo Gallery for Bucculatrix cuneigera - No common name

Photos: 2

Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf on 2015-06-19
Avery Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf on 2015-06-19
Avery Co.