Moths of North Carolina
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46 NC Records

Pococera robustella (Zeller, 1848) - Pine Webworm Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Pyraloidea Family: PyralidaeSubfamily: EpipaschiinaeTribe: [Epipaschiini]P3 Number: 800122.00 MONA Number: 5595.00
Species Status: This species defoliates pines and can become a significant pest in commercial operations where pine seedlings are grown. Outbreaks commonly occur on one to two-year old pine seedlings, and can kill seedlings and reduce the aesthetic and commercial value of pines grown as Christmas trees or ornamentals (Mayfield, 2007).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Leckie and Beadle (2018)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Mayfield (2007); Wallesz and Benjamin (1960)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The Pine Webworm Moth is a small grayish to brownish moth with broad wings and broad bands on the forewing. The following description is based in part on that of Forbes (1923) and Mayfield (2007). The upper head and thorax vary from light grayish brown to brown and are more or less concolorous with the basal portion of the forewing. The antenna is brownish and is about two-thirds the forewing length. The basal third of the forewing varies from dark gray to dark brown and typically becomes paler towards the base. The remainder of the forewing is pale gray to light brown, except for the apical one-fifth to one-fourth that is dark gray to dark brown and forms a wide, terminal band. The terminal band is separated from the lighter central region by a jagged, dark brown post-median line with a slightly lighter posterior border. Some individuals also have a fine whitish line that separated the light central region from the darker basal third of the wing. A marginal row of dark bars is present along the termen at the juncture with the cilia. The hindwing is brown with lighter cilia that are separated by a darker marginal line.
Wingspan: 22-25 mm (Forbes, 1923; Mayfield 2007)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on pine needles and live in communal nests that are known as 'frass nests'. Hertel and Benjamin (1979) studied populations in Slash Pine plantations in northern Florida where there are typically three generations per year. The female lays a small mass of 2-10 eggs on a pine needle. The first three instars typically mine the needles, whereas the fourth through sixth instars share a common nest on a branch or main stem. Second and third instars also occasionally can be found in frass nests. The frass nest is a large oblong structure that is typically 5-15 cm long. It consists of brown fecal pellets and dead needles and debris that are bound together with silk. The larvae periodically either partially or completely exit the nest to clip needles that they bring back into the nest to consume. The fully grown larvae are 13 to 18 mm long and the head is light brown with black markings. The abdomen is light brown with darker longitudinal stripes (Mayfield, 2007). The mature larva eventually moves to the ground and pupates within a silken cocoon (Hertel and Benjamin 1979). In Wisconsin, local populations are single-brooded and the larvae overwinter in sand-covered cocoons beneath the host tree. Pupation occurs in early June and the adults emerge about two weeks later (Wallesz and Benjamin, 1960). The larvae appear in early July and spend at least the first instar mining needles before they construct a frass nest.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Pococera robustella is found in eastern North America, including southern Canada (Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec) and much of the eastern US. In the US the range extends from the New England states southward to southern Florida and westward to eastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma, western Kentucky, Wisconsin and Minnesota. This species occurs statewide in North Carolina, but appears to be less common in the Coastal Plain compared with other regions of the state.
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 are active year-round in Florida, and from April through October in other areas outside of North Carolina. A seasonal peak in activity occurs from June through August. As of 2021, our records extend from mid-May through early September. North Carolina populations appear to produce either one or two broods per year.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records come mainly from wet to somewhat dry forests, including riparian habitats, lakeshores, mesic slopes, and mixed pine-hardwood forests. Virginia Pine appears to be the most important host in the mountains, while Loblolly Pine is the only documented natural host In the Piedmont and Coastal Plain as of 2021.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae feed primarily on yellow pines, but on rare occasions may use White Pine (Pinus strobus). The known hosts (Mayfield, 2007; Robinson et al., 2010) include Jack Pine (P. banksiana), Sand Pine (P. clausa), Shortleaf Pine (P. echinata), Slash Pine (P. elliotii), Longleaf Pine (P. palustris), Red Pine (P. resinosa), Pitch Pine (P. rigida), Scots Pine (P. sylvestris), Loblolly Pine (P. taeda), and Virginia Pine (P. virginiana). We have records of this species using Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana), and Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) in North Carolina. Dean Furbish also observed the frass nests on dwarf cultivars of Virginia Pine, Swiss Mountain Pine (P. uncinata), Scots Pine, and Japanese Red Pine (P. densiflora) at the J. C. Raulston Arboretum at NC State University.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights and the conspicuous frass nests are easy to spot on pine shoots.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Pine Forests and Woodlands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S4
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species appears to be relatively secure within the state due to the fact that it is found statewide and depends on yellow pines as hosts.

 Photo Gallery for Pococera robustella - Pine Webworm Moth

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

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-07-29
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-07-28
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka on 2022-07-24
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-07-17
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-06-29
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2022-06-27
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-06-06
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka on 2022-06-04
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-06-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-08-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-06
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-02
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-16
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-06-09
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-01
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-20
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-30
Wake Co.
Comment: “Frass nest” on miniature cultivar (Zelenac) of Swiss Mountain Pine (Pinus uncinata).
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-30
Wake Co.
Comment: “Frass nest” on miniature cultivar (KBN Gold) of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris).
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-30
Wake Co.
Comment: “Frass nest” on miniature cultivar (Driscoll) of Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana).
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-30
Wake Co.
Comment: “Frass nest” on miniature cultivar (Red O. D. Burke) of Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora).
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-22
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-03-09
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-03-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-02-24
Madison Co.
Comment: A 'frass nest' on Virginia Pine. Silken tunnels were inside, but there were no larvae or pupae.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-02-24
Madison Co.
Comment: A 'frass nest' on Virginia Pine. Silken tunnels were inside, but there were no larvae or pupae.
Recorded by: David George on 2020-08-23
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-12
Madison Co.
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