Moths of North Carolina
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4 NC Records

Phyllocnistis ampelopsiella Chambers, 1871 - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: PhyllocnistinaeP3 Number: 330394.00 MONA Number: 844.00
Comments: Phyllocnistis is a large genus with more than 125 described species worldwide, with 16 species currently recognized in North America. Davis and Wagner (2011) surmised that there may be hundreds of undescribed species in the neotropics. The adults of some species are very similar, and knowledge of the hostplant and mine characteristics is helpful in identifying morphologically similar species (Eiseman, 2019).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG; BugGuide.Technical Description, Immature Stages: Chambers, 1871; Eiseman, 2019.                                                                                  
Adult Markings: The following is based primarily on Chambers’ (1871) original description. The forewing is snowy white and slightly golden towards the apex. The antenna, except near the base, is pale fuscous to darkish above. A pale blackish spot is present on the dorsal margin of the wings just posterior to the base. It adjoins an indistinct blackish median longitudinal line that extends through the thorax. A conspicuous oblique blackish basal streak begins at the base of the costa and progressively projects toward the middle of the wing. Just beyond the middle of the costa is a second shorter oblique costal black streak which projects towards the middle of the wing. Behind this is a narrow black line (sometimes incomplete near the middle) that curves from the costa to the inner margin where it widens. A conspicuous, circular black spot is present at the tip of the wing. Before it, there are two straight black costal streaks that extend into the fringe. The apical cilia has three blackish lines that converge towards the apical spot. Finally, there is a blackish marginal line, or a more diffuse blackish band, that originates near the apical spot and arches anteriorly towards the dorsal margin. Chambers (1871) noted that this species resembles P. vitifoliella, but differs in having a blackish median line through the thorax, a conspicuous black basal streak, and bolder blackish streaks throughout.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae mine the underside of Virginia Creeper leaves and produce a wide, linear mine with a very narrow black central frass line. A larva will often begin on the side of a vein near the leaf margin, then pass down the vein until it reaches, or nearly reaches, the midrib. From there it roughly parallels the midrib to the next vein, then works its way up that vein to the leaf margin. From there, it crosses to the adjoining vein and repeats the process. Because most of the tissue is consumed in the process, the track superficially resembles a large whitish blotch mine (Chambers, 1871; Eiseman, 2019). Pupation occurs at the end of the mine, typically in a small fold along the leaf margin. Chambers (1871) occasionally found the adults overwintering beneath the bark on hickory trees.

Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: The range of P. ampelopsiella is rather poorly documented due to the scarcity of records in the US. This species occurs in eastern North America from southern Canada (Ontario; Quebec) and the northern US (Iowa; Wisconsin;Maine), southward to as far south as southern Florida. As of 2020, we have only three records for the state. These are 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)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Chambers (1871) noted that the larvae mine the leaves of Virginia Creeper from early summer until leaf drop in the fall. As of 2020, our earliest records for mines are from June.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are dependent on Virginia Creeper for successful reproduction. This widespread vine occurs in a wide variety of forest and forest edge habitats that range from swamplands and bottomland forests to drier woodlands.
Larval Host Plants: Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is the only known native host used by this species in North America. Robinson et al. (2010) list this species as feeding on Ampelopsis and Vitis vinifera. Parthenocissus was historically placed in the genus Ampelopsis, which may be the basis for this listing. Vitis vinifera is a commercial grape that is native to the Mediterranean region. We are unaware of any records of this species mining the leaves of wild grapes.
Observation Methods: The adults appear to rarely visit lights. Most records are for either leaf mines, or for adults that were reared from leaf mines. We recommend searching for occupied mines on the undersides of leaves, and rearing and photographing the adults.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Vitaceous Tangles
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: This species is probably more common than our records suggest given that little effort has been put forth to document leafminers in North Carolina, and that the underside mines are difficult to spot without inspecting the undersides of the host plant.

 Photo Gallery for Phyllocnistis ampelopsiella - No Common Name

Photos: 13

Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-03
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-03
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-03
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-05
Madison Co.
Comment: A backlit leaflet of Virginia Creeper that shows a portion of a mine. Note the thin dark frass trail and the highly convoluted track.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-05
Madison Co.
Comment: A backlit leaflet of Virginia Creeper that shows a the thin, dark frass trail and highly convoluted track. The mine begins at the bottom left of the photo, then eventually crosses the midrib. The pupation chamber is under the folded leaf margin at the top.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-05
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the upper surface of a leaflet of Virginia Creeper. Pupation occurs on the underside beneath a curled leaf margin to produce this tentiform structure.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-05
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the lower surface of a leaflet of Virginia Creeper with a mine (see companion photos of a backlit view of this.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-08-13
Scotland Co.
Comment: A view of lower-surface linear mines on Parthenocissus quinquefolia. Note the very narrow central frass trail and the folded leaf margin at the end of the mine leaf where pupation takes place.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-08-13
Scotland Co.
Comment: A view of the upper leaflet surface of Parthenocissus quinquefolia that has a lower-surface linear mine (see companion photo of the lower surface). Note the folded leaf margin near the base of the leaflet.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-08-13
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-06-08
Wake Co.
Comment: Lower-surface linear mines with central frass trails (rather faint in this image) on Parthenocissus quinquefolia.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-06-08
Wake Co.
Comment: A view of the upper leaflet surfaces of Parthenocissus quinquefolia that had lower-surface linear mines.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-06-08
Wake Co.
Comment: Lower-surface linear mines with central frass trails on Parthenocissus quinquefolia. The frass trails are rather faint in this image.