Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 16 NC Records

Parectopa plantaginisella (Chambers, 1872) - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: GracillariinaeTribe: [Gracillariini]P3 Number: 330180.00 MONA Number: 656.00
Comments: The genus Parectopa contains around 40 species that are found worldwide, including nine species in North America. All are very small moths that are specialized leafminers.
Species Status: When Chambers (1872) described Parectopa plantaginisella he mistakenly listed the host plant as Plantago virginica. He later realized that it was an Erigeron and rename the moth P. erigeronella, but that name is not accepted because of the principle of priority (Eiseman, 2019).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG; BugGuide; BAMONA; iNaturalistTechnical Description, Adults: Chambers (1872); Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Eiseman, 2019.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is primarily based on descriptions by Chambers (1872) and Forbes (1923). The labial palps are bronze on the outer side and mostly white within, while the maxillary palps are white with brownish tips. The antenna is pale brown. The vertex, thorax, and forewing have a brownish golden ground color. The vertex has a silvery white stripe on each side that continues back onto the sides of the brownish golden thorax. From there, the white stripe connects or nearly connects with a longitudinal basal streak on the forewing. There are four costal and three dorsal silvery white streaks that are roughly equally spaced and extend almost to the center of the wing. All have dark margins on both the sides and around the apex. The streaks are posteriorly oblique, except for the fourth costal (anteriorly oblique) and the third dorsal (approximately perpendicular or slightly anteriorly oblique). A strong silver subterminal spot is present opposite the tip of the third costal streak that is continued by a white bar in the fringe. The apical spot has a large silver center. The fringe is black with a white triangle below the apex, and is strongly caudate. The legs are banded with white and black. Parectopa pennsylvaniella has very similar markings, This species is darker, has streaks that are less heavily black-edged, has a white head other than the light brown vertex, and specializes on asters (Symphyotrichum) rather than fleabanes as seen in P. plantaginisella. It has a more northern range and has not been recorded in North Carolina as of 2020.
Wingspan: 7 mm (Forbes, 1923).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The yellowish larva initially produces a yellowish linear mine on the lower leaf surface that has a narrow central frass line. This then expands into a much larger yellowish blotch that is rather puffy, with irregular patches eaten out (Eiseman, 2019). The frass is deposited in a pile at one corner, or in the leaf tip if the mine extends to it. The last instar eventually exits the blotch and spins an elongate, brownish cocoon, although is rare instances the cocoon is spun in the mine (Eiseman, 2019).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Parectopa plantaginisella is rather widely distributed in North America. Populations occur in Ontario, Quebec, and the eastern US, as well as Oregon and Washington. In the eastern US, the range extends from the northeastern states to Minnesota, and southward to the Gulf Coast regions of Louisiana and Florida. As of 2020, we have records from the lower elevations in the mountains to the western Coastal Plain.
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
Immature 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: Adults are on the wing from May through September. Some local populations may be bivoltine, with a peak in the first brood in late spring or early summer, followed by a second brood in late summer. In North Carolina the first brood peaks in May, with some populations possibly producing a second brood in July-August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations use several species of fleabanes as hosts. These tend to favor open, sunny habitats that often show evidence of disturbance, but some species do well in woodland settings. Representative habitats include infrequently mowed fields, roadsides and waste places, gardens, and woodland roadways and trails.
Larval Host Plants: Parectopa plantaginisella appears to be monophagous on Erigeron species. The known hosts include Annual Fleabane (E. annuus), Common Horseweed (E. canadensis), Philadelphia Fleabane (E. philadelphicus) and Prairie Fleabane (E. strigosus). As of 2020, we have records of mines on all of these species.
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights, but many records are based on either leaf mines, or adults that were reared from leaf mines.
Wikipedia
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: This species is probably more common than our limited records suggest due to the lack of a statewide effort to document leaf-mining species in North Carolina.

 Photo Gallery for Parectopa plantaginisella - No common name

Photos: 18

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-22
Clay Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-22
Clay Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-22
Graham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-21
Graham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-21
Graham Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines were on Erigeron.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-21
Graham Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines were on Erigeron.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-18
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the upper leaf surface of Erigeron with a puffy blotch. Note the linear portion of the mine below the blotch (see companion photo of the lower surface).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-18
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-18
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the lower leaf surface of Erigeron. Note the linear epidermal mine that begins on the midrib, then eventually moves to the leaf margin where the mine becomes a puffy, interparenchymal blotch mine (see companion photo).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-31
Madison Co.
Comment: Mines were collected on 2020-05-14 From Erigeron philadelphicus; two adults emerged on 2020-05-31.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-05-21
Madison Co.
Comment: A reared adult that emerged from a mine that was collected on 2020-05-05 (see companion photo of the mine).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-05-21
Madison Co.
Comment: A reared adult that emerged from a mine that was collected on 2020-05-05 (see companion photo of the mine).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-05-14
Madison Co.
Comment: A puffy mine on Erigeron philadelphicus; two adults emerged on 31 May.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-05
Madison Co.
Comment: A Leaf mine on Erigeron philadelphicus that began as narrow linear track on the underside of the leaf, then enlarged into a puffy blotch mine.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-05
Madison Co.
Comment: A mine with arrow that shows the initial track that is very narrow. See companion photo of the adult that emerged on 2020-05-21.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-05
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2016-05-06
Scotland Co.
Comment: This species is a specialist on Erigeron and produces puffy blotch mines.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2016-05-06
Scotland Co.
Comment: Leaf mines on Erigeron strigosus.