Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 18 NC Records

Leucospilapteryx venustella (Clemens, 1860) - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: GracillariinaeTribe: [Gracillariini]P3 Number: 330226.00 MONA Number: 698.00
Comments: Leucospilapteryx is a small genus in the family Gracillariidae with only three recognized species. Leucospilapteryx venustella is the only one that occurs in North America.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes, 1923Technical Description, Immature Stages: Diaz et al. (2014)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is primarily based on the description by Forbes (1923). The head and eye-cap are silvery white, while the labial palp is white with two blackish spots. The antenna is dark brown. The forewing has a dark brown to brownish black ground color. There is a well-defined white streak that extends along the inner margin from the base to about half way to the apex. The costa has a small white costal spot at about one-fourth. This is followed by three ragged-edged, white streaks that are roughly equidistant. The first two are oblique posteriorly, straight, and run parallel to each other. They sometimes continue as a faint broken or fragmented streak that reaches well beyond the mid-point of the wing. The third is weakly oblique posteriorly and more curved. The cilia has a white patch with a dark margin, and contains a black dot. The fringe is mouse gray and mixed with white. The front and middle legs are brownish black except for the tarsi, which are whitish with fine black spots near the joints. The rear legs are white with brownish black bands. Individuals posture with the front legs raised, much like Acrocercops or Caloptilia species. Leucospilapteryx venustella is superficially similar to Acrocercops astericola, but the latter lacks a well-defined white streak that extends along the inner margin from the base to near the first dorsal blotch.
Wingspan: 8 mm (Forbes, 1923).
Forewing Length: 4.2 ± 0.2 mm (Diaz et al., 2014).
Adult Structural Features: The male and female genitalia are illustrated in Diaz et al. (2014).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The hatchling initially produces a narrow, whitish linear track that enlarges into an underside tentiform blotch with wrinkles. The frass is often collected in a ball and the off-white larva eventually turns bright red at the termination of feeding. The larva eventually leaves the mine and spins a flat, white, oblong cocoon in a leaf fold or on the ground (Diaz et al., 2014; Eiseman, 2019). The mines are highly variable in shape and size depending on the host plant, and there are often more than one on a single leaf.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Leucospilapteryx venustella is found in eastern North America, including Ontario, Quebec, and much of the eastern US. In the US, the range extends from the northeastern states westward to Minnesota, and southward to as far as Florida and eastern Texas. As of 2020, most of our records are from the mountains, eastern Piedmont, and western Coastal Plain where searches for leaf mines have been most concentrated.
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 have been collected throughout most of the growing season, generally from April to September or later. As of 2020, we have records of adults from April to October, with records of mines from July to September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae feed on a variety of species in the Asteraceae, including many that are found in open, sunny habitats with moist to drier soils. Representative habitats included disturbed sites such as agricultural fields, roadways, forest edges, and waste areas, as well as woodland paths and mesic forests.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are polyphagous and mine the leaves of composites, including species of Ageratina, Ambrosia, Bidens, Eutrochium, Mikania, Pseudognaphalium and Rudbeckia. As of 2020, hosts that have been documented in North Carolina include White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), Annual Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), Spanish-needles (Bidens bipinnata), Bearded Beggarticks (B. aristosa), Climbing Hempweed (Mikania scandens) and Joe-pye-weed (Eutrochium sp.).
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit UV lights, but many of our records are based on 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 undoubtedly more widespread in the state than our records through 2020 indicate.

 Photo Gallery for Leucospilapteryx venustella - No common name

Photos: 8

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-27
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A view of the upper surface of White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) with a tentiform mine.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-27
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A view of the lower surface of White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) with a tentiform mine.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-30
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the underside of a Joe Pye Weed leaf (Eutrochium sp.) with four weakly tentiform mines.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-30
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the upperside of a Joe Pye Weed leaf (Eutrochium sp.) with two mines.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-30
Madison Co.
Comment: The thin whitish layer on this mine on Joe Pye Weed was removed to reveal a larva and frass clump.
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger, P. Scharf on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2015-05-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf on 2014-06-09
Avery Co.
Comment: