Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 58 NC Records

Phyllocnistis liriodendronella Clemens, 1863 - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: PhyllocnistinaeTribe: [Phyllocnistini]P3 Number: 330401.00 MONA Number: 849.00
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).
Species Status: Phyllocnistis liriodendronella and P. magnoliella are the only species of Phyllocnistis in our area that have a longitudinal golden streak from the base to the middle of the forewing. According to Forbes (1923), brown edging occurs along the golden streak in P. liriodendronella, but is absent in P. magnoliella. Forbes also noted that P. liriodendronella is a specialist on the Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), while P. magnoliella specializes on several species of native magnolias (Magnolia). Eiseman (2019) raised specimens from both Liriodendron and Magnolia in Massachusetts and found that the adults of both conformed to Forbes’ description of P. liriodendronella. A colleague of Eiseman also found just one species on Liriodendron and Magnolia. Based on these results, Eiseman (2019) suggested that P. magnoliella will eventually be synonymized with P. liriodendronella. Jim Petranka reared specimens from Liriodendron and Magnolia mines from Madison County that also were indistinguishable and conform to P. liriodendronella as described by Forbes (1923). However, larvae on Magnolia tended to pupate beneath curled leaf edges, while those on Liriodendron tended to pupate in folds of the leaf that were inward from the leaf edge. This behavioral difference suggest the possibility of two species. Until taxonomic issues are resolved, we have arbitrarily decided to treat leaf mines on Liriodendron as being those of P. liriodendronella, and leaf mines on magnolias to be those of P. magnoliella. Adults that were collected at sites that had Liriodendron, but no Magnolia, are also presumed to be P. liriodendronella. In cases where representatives of both host genera were present -- and the specimen possessed a golden streak that was edged with brown -- the specimen was assigned to the Phyllocnistis liriodendronella__magnoliella complex.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923), Eiseman (2019).Technical Description, Immature Stages: Eiseman (2019).                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Phyllocnistis liriodendronella and P. magnoliella that we have reared from different host plants in North Carolina are indistinguishable, and the following description applies to both species. The base color of the forewing is silvery white with golden yellowish patches and streaks on the apical third. About midway, there is a matching pair of oblique costal and dorsal streaks that converge near the middle to form either a complete and incomplete posteriorly angled fascia. The streaks are golden-yellow and have well-defined dark margins. A broad, golden-yellow longitudinal streak, often with less prominent dark margins on both sides, extends from the wing base to near the apex of the fascia. This streak may sometimes fused with the fascia. A smaller broad golden-yellow costal streak occurs just posterior to the apex of the fascia. This streak runs nearly perpendicular to the costa, has a faint dark margin on the posterior edge, and often extends to the apex of the fascia. Beyond this streak, there are three short subapical dark lines with surrounding golden-yellowish wash, and a conspicuous apical spot. The dark lines run roughly perpendicular to the costa and into the fringe. In addition to these, two or three rather poorly defined dark lines are often evident in the apical fringe, along with a dark line that begins at the apical spot and arches anteriorly. Phyllocnistis liriodendronella and P. magnoliella are the only species of Phyllocnistis in our area that have a longitudinal golden streak from the base to the middle of the forewing. These species are best separated by their host plants (see the note above concerning the taxonomic uncertainty of P. liriodendronella and P. magnoliella).
Wingspan: 6 mm (Forbes, 1923)
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. These lack both legs and eyes and create long serpentine mines. The final instar is a non-feeding stage that spins a cocoon in an enlarged chamber at the end of the mine. Adults of the final seasonal brood overwinter and become active the following spring. Phyllocnistis liriodendronella produces a long, sinuous mine that often criss-crosses or repeatedly folds-back on itself. A well-defined narrow frass line is usually evident near the middle of an otherwise whitish mine. The mines can be found on both expanding and fully formed leaves beginning with the spring leaf-out (Eiseman, 2019). The larvae only mine the leaf epidermis and feed on the internal fluids of the cells. In North Carolina, the mines are typically on the upper leaf surface. However, we have found mines in the Sandhills that were on the lower leaf surface. These tended to be narrower and cover a smaller portion of the leaf compared to typical upper-surface mines.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Phyllocnistis liriodendronella is widely distributed in eastern North America from southern Canada to northern Alabama. This species is locally common at low to mid-elevations in the mountains. Its distribution in the remainder of the state is rather poorly documented, and includes both the Piedmont and the northeastern portion of 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 period is poorly documented in NC, but likely extends from late-May through September based on leaf mine and adult records.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Generally found in forest communities that support Liriodendron, particularly Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forests and Rich Cove Forests. Most of our current records are from the Blue Ridge and Piedmont. Coastal Plain populations are poorly documented, but likely occur in bottomland forests where Liriodendron co-occurs with other broadleaf species.
Larval Host Plants: Liriodendron tulipifera is the primary host for this species, but native magnolias such as M. acuminata, M. tripetala, and M. virginiana could eventually prove to be secondary hosts (see the species comments above concerning the taxonomic status of P. magnoliella).
Observation Methods: The easiest way to document local populations is by searching for the distinctive mines that occur on Tuliptree leaves. Adults can be collected by holding leaves with mature mines until eclosion. The adults occasionally come to lights at night.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Mesic Hardwood Forests
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: We currently have relatively few records for this species in the state except for the lower mountains, but that is likely due to a lack of effective surveying efforts. The adults are extremely small and are easily overlooked. Liriodendron is a common forest and successional species in North Carolina, and we believe that searches for the distinctive leaf mines will yield many new county records.

 Photo Gallery for Phyllocnistis liriodendronella - No common name

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

Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-27
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2022-06-18
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2022-06-10
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-06
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-06
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-01
Richmond Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-05-10
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-10-20
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-10-19
Wilkes Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-10-11
Burke Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-22
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-10
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-02
Madison 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 and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-11
Richmond Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines were on the undersides of Liriodendron (no upper surface mines); were narrower and occurred over less leaf area than mines that are typically seen on the upper surface.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-11
Richmond Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mines were on the undersides of Liriodendron (no upper surface mines); were narrower and occurred over less leaf area than mines that are typically seen on the upper surface.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-08-03
Alleghany Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-08-03
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-08-03
Wilkes Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-24
Jackson Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-23
Graham 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
Cherokee Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-21
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-21
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2021-07-10
McDowell 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 2021-06-27
Madison Co.
Comment: Mines were unoccupied.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-27
McDowell Co.
Comment: Mines were unoccupied.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-16
Madison Co.
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