Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
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View PDFNepticulidae Members:
Fomoria Members:
2 NC Records

Fomoria pteliaeella (Chambers, 1880) - No Common Name

Family: NepticulidaeP3 Number: 160065.00 MONA Number: 60.00
Comments: The genus Fomaria currently contains 48 species that occur worldwide, with the majority occurring in Africa, Europe, and Asia. Only three species are currently recognized in North America.
Species Status: This species does not appear to be attracted to lights and most records are based on the distinctive leaf mines. There are remarkably few images of the adults and more effort in needed to rear the adults.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Braun (1917)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Fomoria pteliaeella is a tiny moth that is black with silvery white markings. The following description is based primarily on that of Braun (1917). The head tuft is dark brown, the eye cap is white, and the thorax is silvery. The extreme dorsal base of the forewing is also silvery. The forewing has a dark brown to blackish ground color that is overlain with a silvery fascia just before the middle. The only other marks are a silvery costal spot and opposing dorsal spot at around three-fourths. The cilia are silvery gray around the apex and brownish toward the dorsum. The hindwing and cilia vary from are dark brown to dark gray. The legs are brown outwardly, with the inner surfaces and apical segments of the tarsi silvery. The abdomen is dark brown above and paler beneath.

Wingspan: 4.0-4.5 mm (Braun, 1917)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable only by close inspection of structural features or by DNA analysis.
Immatures and Development: This species primarily uses the Hoptree as a host and there are often two or more upper-surface mines on a single leaf. The eggs can be deposited on either side of the leaf and the linear mine is highly contorted. The youngest portion tends to be indistinct and can be so contorted as to appear blotch-like. The older portions are also highly contorted and frass fills most of the mine. The deserted mines tend to become become whitish or yellowish with age. The larva is bright green and eventually exits the mine and pupates in a dark brown cocoon (Braun, 1917; Eiseman, 2019).

Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Fomoria pteliaeella is found in eastern North America from Minnesota eastward through the northern states and adjoining areas of Ontario and Quebec to Vermont. The range extends southward mostly through non-coastal areas to central Alabama and eastern Texas. As of 2022, our two site records are both from lower elevation sites in the Blue Ridge.
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: Very few adults have been collected and the flight season is poorly documented. Braun (1917) reported that there are two generations a year in Kentucky and Ohio and that the larvae can be collected in July through September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are largely restricted to where the Common Hoptree is present. This species generally is found in areas with neutral soils. In the mountains it prefers rocky habitats such as rocky woods, cliffs and bluffs, but can occasionally be found in rich, alluvial habitats. In the Piedmont and Coastal Plain it most commonly occurs along stream banks and levees.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae feed primarily on the Common Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata) although the mines have also been found on Common Prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum americanum). As of 2022, all of our records are for P. trifoliata.
Observation Methods: The adults almost never visit lights and local populations are best documented by searching for the highly contorted mines on hoptrees. This is the only leafminer that uses the Common Hoptree, so the mines can be readily assigned to this species.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet-Dry Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S1S3
State Protection:
Comments: Fomoria pteliaeella appears to be an uncommon species in North Carolina. It was first documented within the state in 2022 and we currently have only two site records.

 Photo Gallery for Fomoria pteliaeella - No Common Name

Photos: 6

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-09-21
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-09-21
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-09-21
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2022-09-13
Rutherford Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2022-09-13
Rutherford Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2022-09-13
Rutherford Co.