Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
Family (Alpha):
« »
View PDFGracillariidae Members:
Caloptilia Members:
10 NC Records

Caloptilia umbratella (Braun, 1927) - No Common Name

view caption
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: GracillariinaeTribe: [Gracillariini]P3 Number: 330166.00 MONA Number: 642.00
Comments: Caloptilia is a large genus with nearly 300 described species; 64 species have been described in North America north of Mexico. The larvae begin as leaf-mining sap-feeders, but the latter instars usually exit the mines and feed within a conical roll that begins at the leaf apex or at the tip of a leaf lobe.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Braun (1927)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Braun (1927)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is based on the description by Braun (1927). The maxillary palp is golden yellow. The second segment of the labial palp is also golden yellow, except for dark brown coloration on the apex. The third segment is golden-yellow on the lower half and tip, and dark brown elsewhere. The antenna is dark purplish fuscous with paler annulations. The face is golden, shading to brownish purple on the head. The forewing is dark crimson purple, with some golden brown reflection. There are two golden costal triangles. The first is a large mark just before one-half the wing length. Its anterior edge slants and curves apically before terminating at the fold. The posterior edge is often concave or indented, and has one or two black spots on the costa. The base of its outer edge on the costa does not quite reach the middle of the costa. The second costal triangle is much smaller and is separated from the first by about half its width. A few indistinct yellowish-brown spots are often evident beyond the second costal triangle. The first is small, the second nearly crossing the wing, and the third is at the tip of the wing and partly in the cilia. The cilia is gray on the dorsum, but otherwise brownish purple and marked with three dark lines around the apex and on the termen. The hindwing is dark brownish-gray. The upper region of the first and second pair of legs are brownish purple, while the tarsi are white, with dark tips. The hindleg, except for the dark brown outer halves of the femora, is yellow with brownish shading toward the tips of the segments. The underside of the abdomen is golden yellow.

Braun (1927) noted that the dark labial palp will help distinguish this species from all the other maple-feeding species that have a uniform ground color and one or more sharply defined costal triangles. Specimens that we have observed in North Carolina tend to have the second costal triangle greatly reduced in size and often represented as a yellowish spot. Our specimens somewhat resemble C. stigmella, but the latter tends to have a more uniformly brown palp and forewing, and a single triangular mark. As noted by Braun (1927), C. umbratella typically has a few indistinct yellowish-brown spots or blotches beyond the second costal triangle that create a more mottled appearance on the apical third of the forewing. Caloptilia umbratella is externally identical to an undescribed species of Ribes feeder ( that is known from Illinois. The range of the Ribes feeder in the US is poorly documented, and it has not been observed in North Carolina to date. If present, it would be confined to the mountains where Ribes occur. Caloptilia umbratella can be most confidently identified by either genitalia, the rearing of adults, or knowledge of the presence/absence of host plants locally.
Wingspan: 11 mm (Braun, 1927)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: When feeding on Sugar Maple, the larva first creates a short linear mine that terminates in a small flat blotch. It then leaves the mine and makes a small cone at the tip of one of the lobes, then later creates a large cone by rolling under one of the lobes (Braun, 1927; Eiseman, 2019). The cocoon is spun on the outer surface of the cone in a slight fold on a part of the rolled leaf that faces downward. The cocoon is reddish tinged, and the adults typically emerged within 2-4 weeks after the larva pupates (Eiseman, 2019).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Caloptilia umbratella is found in Maine and in adjoining areas of extreme southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec), southward to eastern Tennessee and North Carolina, and westward to Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota.
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: Most adult records from areas outside of North Carolina are from May through October, with isolated records from January that likely reflect overwintering adults. As of 2021, we have a pupal record from late October, with an adult that emerged in mid-November.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Populations are found in hardwood or mixed pine-hardwood forests with maples.
Larval Host Plants: The known hosts include Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and Red Maple (A. rubrum). - View
Observation Methods: The adults appear to only occasionally come to lights, and many records are based on reared adults from maples.
See also Habitat Account for General Maple Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S1S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is apparently rare within the state where it is at the southern limit of its range. However, more information is needed on its distribution and abundance before we can assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Caloptilia umbratella - No common name

Photos: 9

Recorded by: Jeff Niznik, Stephen Dunn on 2023-07-26
Chatham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-10-15
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-05-22
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-12-11
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-12-11
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Tracy S Feldman on 2020-10-21
Scotland Co.
Comment: This adult was reared from a cocoon found near tentiform mines and leaf rolls on Acer rubrum (see companion photo). The adult emerged for Charley Eiseman in mid-November. Photo by Charley Eiseman.
Recorded by: Tracy S Feldman on 2020-10-21
Scotland Co.
Comment: This cocoon was found near the underside tentiform mines and leaf rolls on Acer rubrum. The adult emerged in mid-November.
Recorded by: Tracy S Feldman on 2020-10-21
Scotland Co.
Comment: This cocoon was found near the underside tentiform mines and leaf rolls on Acer rubrum. The adult emerged in mid-November.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-10-13
Madison Co.