Moths of North Carolina
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Phyllonorycter Members:
7 NC Records

Phyllonorycter propinquinella (Braun, 1908) - Cherry Blotch Miner Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: LithocolletinaeTribe: [Lithocolletini]P3 Number: 330320.00 MONA Number: 784.00
Comments: Phyllonorycter is a genus of small and often colorful moths, with 79 described species in North America. The larvae of most form underside tentiform mines on woody plants and pupate within the mines.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG; BugGuideTechnical Description, Adults: Braun, 1908.Technical Description, Immature Stages: Eiseman, 2019.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is primarily based on Braun's (1908) original description of the species. The antenna is dark gray, and the face and palps are silvery. The tuft is dark brown with a mix of whitish scales. The ground color of the thorax and forewing of the male is brownish golden (more golden in the female), with darker scales near the middle of the wing and in the dorsal half. The dorsal margin is narrowly white towards the base. The thorax has a white line across the anterior margin that passes over the patagia and is continuous with the white basal streak on the forewing. The basal streak is rather broad and pointed at the apex, and ends at about two-fifths of the wing length. It is black margined on the costal side and around its apex. The forewing has four costal and three dorsal white streaks. The first costal is just before the middle, is very oblique, and is dark margined on both sides. The other three costal streaks are nearly perpendicular to the costa and are dark margined on the anterior side only. The first dorsal streak begins much nearer the base than the first costal streak and is dark margined on both sides. It is long and oblique, with its apex reaching to or beyond that of the first costal streak (sometimes almost to the space between the second costal and dorsal streaks). The second dorsal streak is nearly perpendicular to the dorsal margin and opposite the second costal streak. The remaining dorsal and costal streaks are greatly reduced in size and often inconspicuous. A concentration of blackish brown scales between the second pair of streaks extends backward along the middle of the wing to the apex where it may form a dark streak, and is better developed in the male. The marginal line in the cilia is blackish, with a bluish metallic luster. The cilia are grayish ocherous and less gray in the female. The hindwings and cilia are grayish, with a fulvous tinge. The legs are ocherous with gray banding on the tarsi.

Phyllonorycter propinquinella is very similar to P. blancardella and P. crataegella and is best identified either by rearing the adults or by using genitalia or molecular markers. Braun (1908) noted that P. propinquinella differs from P. crataegella in being larger (wingspan 8-9 mm versus 6.5-7 mm for P. crataegella), and in having a more oblique first dorsal streak that is nearer the base of the wing relative to that of P. crataegella. Phyllonorycter blancardella is a specialist on apples and crabapples and is a more northern form that has not been found in North Carolina as of 2022.

Wingspan: 8-9 mm (Braun, 1908).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae form underside tentiform mines that are typically 1-1.5 cm in length. As larvae feed they deposit the frass in a central dark mass (Eiseman, 2019). Mines that we examined in North Carolina had several longitudinal folds, were often slightly bowed, and were usually placed roughly parallel to the midrib or along the leaf margin. When viewed from the upper leaf surface, the tentiform mines were speckled with small green and whitish blotches that tended to turn brown with age. Individual leaves normally contained a single mine, but occasionally had two, and the mines were common on seedlings. This species uses Black Cherry and the mines closely resemble those of certain Parornix species that mine Black Cherry. It is important to rear the adults to obtain a positive identification.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Phyllonorycter propinquinella occurs in southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec; Nova Scotia), and in Illinois, Ohio, and Connecticut southward to at least North Carolina and Tennessee. Some of the reported records are questionable since this species closely resembles P. crataegella. As of 2020, our records for North Carolina are all from Madison Co. in the mountains.
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: Local populations appear to be multivoltine, with the first brood beginning in March and later broods extending through September or later. As of 2020, our very limited records for occupied mines are from early September to November. Mines that were observed in Madison Co. on 9 November had larvae that presumably were about to overwinter.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Phyllonorycter propinquinella appears to only use Black Cherry as a host. Black Cherry is a seral species that germinates poorly in full shade, but is common in many mesic forests and second-growth hardwoods. Seeds often germinate after disturbance from timbering, road construction, or forest gape formation. This species is also common in old fields, and along roadways and fence rows.
Larval Host Plants: The only documented host is Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), but other Prunus species could potentially be used.
Observation Methods: The adults appear to rarely visit lights. We recommend searching for the tentiform mines and rearing adults.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Montane Rosaceous Thickets
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:

 Photo Gallery for Phyllonorycter propinquinella - Cherry Blotch Miner Moth

Photos: 12

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-11
Madison Co.
Comment: Initial linear portion is evident that begins on the midrib.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-11
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-09
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-11-09
Madison Co.
Comment: Occupied mines were on seedlings of Black Cherry. Adults were reared from this site earlier in the year.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-11-09
Madison Co.
Comment: Occupied mines were on seedlings of Black Cherry. Adults were reared from this site earlier in the year.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-10-18
Madison Co.
Comment: An unoccupied mine on Black Cherry; note the pupal case.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-10-18
Madison Co.
Comment: An unoccupied mine on Black Cherry; note the pupal case.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-09-12
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared from a mine on Black Cherry. Mine collected on 2 Sept; adult emerged on 12 Sept.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-04
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that emerged two days after mines on Black Cherry leaves were collected (see companion photos).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-02
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-02
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-02
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the lower surface of a Black Cherry leaf with two lower-surface tentiform mines.