Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 38 NC Records

Phyllocnistis insignis Frey & Boll, 1876 - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: PhyllocnistinaeTribe: [Phyllocnistini]P3 Number: 330398.00 MONA Number: 846.00
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, BAMONA, iNaturalistTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1923)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The adults are boldly marked with gray, orange, white, and black patterning and are not easily confused with other species. The head and thorax are lead-colored, and the forewing is mostly lead-colored from the base to the middle. The lead-colored region is bordered by a thinner orangish region that is black-edged and extends almost to the apical margin. The costal margin is black and expands into a dark, triangular region near the middle that often has light grayish or whitish marks within. Light spotting continues from there along the costal margin to the apex. A conspicuous black spot occurs on the outer margin.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae of Phyllocnistis are leafminers that typically have four instars. The first three are highly specialized sap-feeding stages that lack both legs and eyes. The final instar is a non-feeding stage that spins a cocoon in an enlarged chamber at the end of the mine. P. insignis has pale yellow larvae that create elongated, sinuous, linear mines that are confined to the upper leaf surface. The mines are often entirely white, but sometimes have dark frass either in the middle or along the edges of the broadest portions of mature mines (Eiseman, 2019). The larvae spin a whitish cocoon in an enlarged terminal chamber. The cocoon eventually turns brown, and the adult moth emerges from the upper epidermis. The pupal skin can often be seen attached to the emergence site. Jim Petranka found mature mines with larvae in February in western North Carolina. This suggests that eggs from the last autumn brood hatch in late fall, and the larvae overwinter in the mines. Additional observations are needed to determine whether the adults also overwinter since Phyllocnistis species typically overwinter as adults.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: P. insignis is widely distributed in eastern North America from Ontario, Nova Scotia and Wisconsin southward to Texas, Louisiana and Florida. In North Carolina, this species appears to be common in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge, but uncommon in the 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: The flight season in North Carolina is poorly documented. Jim Petranka observed larvae overwinter in Madison Co. The larvae were inactive during cold weather, but resumed mining during brief bouts of warm winter weather. Adults emerged from mature mines that were collected in early February in Madison Co. on 22 February, after three weeks at room temperature. Adults emerged from mines that were collected on 18 February in Buncombe Co. on 8 March. This suggest that the adults in natural populations first emerge in March or early April in the mountains. This species has multiple broods and is active through early autumn (Eiseman, 2019).
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: P. insignis uses a variety of host plants that occur in habitats that include dry to mesic forests, woodland edges, fields and roadsides, and highly disturbed, weedy habitats.
Larval Host Plants: This species is a specialist on members of the Asteraceae. Except for one observation of P. insignis using Prenanthes, it specializes on members of the tribe Senecioneae (Eiseman 2019). Host taxa that occur in North Carolina include Arnoglossum, Erechtites, Packera, Senecio, and Tussilago. In North Carolina the larvae frequently overwinter in the basal leaves of Packera aurea, and commonly use Arnoglossum and Erechtites during the spring and summer months.
Observation Methods: The easiest way to document local populations is by searching for the conspicuous leaf mines that occur on host plants. Species of Arnoglossum, Erechtites, and Packera are commonly used in North Carolina. Several species of flies (e.g., Phytomyza and Liriomyza) produce long, linear mines that superficially resemble those of P. insignis. However, these generally either exit the mine to pupate elsewhere, or complete the mine on the underside of the leaf where they spin cocoons. P. insignis can be reliably identified based on the enlarged, terminal pupal chamber on the upper surface and the presence of a pupal skin on the upper surface. If mines with pupae are held in captivity, the adults will typically emerge within 1-2 weeks. The adults appear to only occasionally visit lights.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Forests and Fields
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S4S5
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 that are records suggest due to the fact that little effort has been put forth to document leafminers in the state.

 Photo Gallery for Phyllocnistis insignis - No common name

46 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-10-20
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-08-30
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-08-27
Henderson Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-08-26
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-02
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-22
Clay Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-22
Clay Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Tony McBride, and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-08
Swain Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-30
Mitchell Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-27
McDowell Co.
Comment: Mines were unoccupied; on Packera aurea.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-23
Avery Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-16
Transylvania Co.
Comment: On Arnoglossum atriplicifolium.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2021-06-08
Richmond Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-28
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-01-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-10-22
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2020-10-22
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-10-12
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-10-09
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-10-09
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-10-09
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-10-09
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-10-08
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-09-02
Mecklenburg Co.
Comment: Occupied mines on fireweed (Erechtites hieraciifolia).
Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-09-02
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-29
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-05-14
Madison Co.
Comment: A leaf mine in Pale Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-03-08
Buncombe Co.
Comment: An adult that emerged from a mine with an overwintering larva (see companion photo of the mine from 2020-02-18).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-02-25
Madison Co.
Comment: A leaf of Packera aurea with a mature mine and overwintering larva.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-02-22
Madison Co.
Comment: An adult that emerged from a leaf mine with an overwintering larva (see companion photo of the mine and larva from 2020-02-02).