Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNepticulidae Members: 11 NC Records

Stigmella prunifoliella (Clemens, 1861) - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Nepticuloidea Family: NepticulidaeP3 Number: 160008.00 MONA Number: 70.00
Comments: Members of the genus Stigmella are a group of small leaf-mining moths that typically create linear mines, although a few species form linear-blotch or blotch mines. Newton and Wilkinson (1982) recognized 51 species in their revision on the North American fauna, and new discoveries have since raised the total to around 57 species. Almost all species are specialists and rarely use more than one genus of host plants. Host-specificity, mine characteristics, and genitalic differences are helpful in recognizing closely related forms that are externally similar.
Species Status: Prior to Newton and Wilkinson's (1982) revision of the genus, S. prunifoliella was referred to as S. bifasciella in older literature.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Braun, 2017; Wilkinson and Scoble (1979).Technical Description, Immature Stages: Braun, 2017.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based on Braun (1917) and Wilkinson and Scoble (1979). The palps are gray and lustrous, and the antenna are dark brownish gray. The tuft is orange-ochreous and the eye-cap shining creamy white. The collar is very dark gray. The thorax and base of the forewing to the first fascia are dark purple. Beyond the first fascia, the wing is dark brown to brownish black with bronzy reflections. There are two shining silver fasciae, one at one-third and the second at two-thirds of the wing length. The cilia are concolorous to gray, but become silvery at their tips. The hindwing and cilia are gray. The legs are dark gray with some purple reflections, while the tarsi are pale ochreous. Stigmella prunifoliella is externally indistinguishable from S. ceanothi, which is a more western form that occurs as far east as Massachusetts and Connecticut. These two species can be reliably identified by either genitalia or by raising adults from the host plants.
Wingspan: 3.2-4.6 mm for males; 3.2-4.4 mm for females.
Adult Structural Features: The following description of the genitalia is from Wilkinson and Scoble (1979). Males: The vinculum has the medial posterior edge of the ventral plate with a slight convex bulge. The tegumen is narrow, and the saccus is relatively small with a pair of small, widely separated papillae. The uncus is in the form of a bridge with two small lobes. The gnathos is U-shaped, and the horns each have a short branch arising approximately half way along their length. The valves are broad and reach beyond the uncus. The small, papillate style is not widely separated from the cuiller. The horizontal bars of the transtillas just meet centrally, and the aedeagus is flask-shaped with denticulate cornuti. Females: The anal plate is deeply emarginated. The ductus bursae is approximately twice the length of the apophyses, and gradually widens into the bursa copulatrix, with the accessory sac adorned with denticles. The bursa copulatrix lacks a signum, but has a wavy row of minute pectinations. The anterior and posterior apophyses are of equal length. The anterior apophyses are arcuate and stout terminally, while the posterior apophyses are straight and narrow. The most distinctive features of S. prunifoliella males are the U-shaped gnathos, the aedeagus with a rectangular plate, and the spiculate cornuti. The distinctive features of the females include the denticulate accessory sac, the pectinate bursa copulatrix, and the absence of a signum. Wilkinson and Scoble (1979) noted that this species shows similarities in genital morphology to members of several of the other species-groups that they recognized. A detailed discussion in available in their publication (also see Newton and Wilkinson, 1982). Stigmella prunifoliella is similar to S. ceanothi, but has a less extensive saccus and smaller cornuti on the vesica. In the female, the accessory sac of S. ceanothi may have weaker denticulate markings than S. prunifoliella. The external features of these two species are indistinguishable.
Immatures and Development: Females lay their eggs on the lower leaf next to the midrib. The larva produces an upper surface linear track that typically has a series of zig-zag convoluted arcs for much of the length. In some specimens frass appears rather diffuse within the track, while in others the frass is darker and better defined due to a more compact deposition of the grains. The mine is often strongly contorted, particularly toward the beginning, where it may form a secondary blotch (Braun, 1917; Wilkinson and Scoble, 1979; Eiseman, 2019). The area around the track is often discolored and stained reddish, and there are often two or more mines in a single leaf. Braun (1917) noted that the mines are especially common on the leaves of young saplings that are only a few inches above the ground.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Stigmella prunifoliella has been documented in southeastern Canada (Ontario; Nova Scotia,New Brunswick) and as scattered populations in the eastern US to as far west as Iowa, and as far south as Mississippi and North Carolina (Eiseman, 2019). As of 2020, we have records from all three physiographic provinces.
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)

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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: Local populations are trivoltine. Braun (1917) noted that this species is one of the earliest to appear in the spring. In the vicinity of southern Ohio and Kentucky, the larvae in the first brood become full grown by the middle of May. A second brood occurs in June and July and the last in September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae feed on Prunus spp. and appear to rely heavily on Black Cherry. This species is found throughout most of the state where it is common along forest edges and in other disturbed or early successional habitats. Black Cherry is also common in bottomlands and in rich, mesic hardwood forests.
Larval Host Plants: Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) appears to be the primary host. Other documented hosts include Canadian Plum (P. nigra) and Fire Cherry (P. pensylvanica).
Observation Methods: The adults appear to occasionally visit lights, but cannot always be reliably identified without examining genitalia. The leaf mines are readily visible on Black Cherry leaves, and we recommend raising adults from mines.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Rosaceous Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: We currently do not have sufficient information on the distribution and abundance of this species within the state to assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Stigmella prunifoliella - No common name

Photos: 20

Recorded by: Jim Petranka, John Petranka, Becky Elkin, Sally Gewalt on 2021-09-29
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-01
Wake Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-27
McDowell Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines were on Black Cherry; multiple mines per leaf.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-27
McDowell Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-21
Buncombe Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines were on Black Cherry.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-21
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A backlit image of an unoccupied mine on Black Cherry.
Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-11-19
Mecklenburg Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-10-18
Madison Co.
Comment: An unoccupied mine on a seedling Black Cherry. The large blotch is not part of the mine.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-04
Madison Co.
Comment: A Black Cherry leaf with two unoccupied mines. As larvae eat through tissue, the surrounding tissue often becomes heavily stained as seen here.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-04
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-04
Madison Co.
Comment: A backlit image of an unoccupied mine on Black Cherry. The mine typically begins at the midrib and is convoluted for much of its length.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2019-06-18
Wake Co.
Comment: Occupied mines (not successfully reared) on Prunus serotina--linear with central frass trail
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2019-06-18
Wake Co.
Comment: Occupied mines (not successfully reared) on Prunus serotina--linear with central frass trail
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2019-06-18
Wake Co.
Comment: Occupied mines (not successfully reared) on Prunus serotina--linear with central frass trail
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-07-21
Scotland Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines on Prunus serotina--linear mines with central frass trails.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-07-21
Scotland Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines on Prunus serotina--linear mines with central frass trails.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-07-21
Scotland Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines on Prunus serotina--linear mines with central frass trails.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-05-15
Scotland Co.
Comment: Occupied mines (not successfully reared) on Prunus serotina--linear with central frass trail
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-05-15
Scotland Co.
Comment: Occupied mines (not successfully reared) on Prunus serotina--linear with central frass trail
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-05-15
Scotland Co.
Comment: Occupied mines (not successfully reared) on Prunus serotina--linear with central frass trail