Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 23 NC Records

Phyllocnistis vitegenella Clemens, 1859 - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: PhyllocnistinaeTribe: [Phyllocnistini]P3 Number: 330408.00 MONA Number: 853.00
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; BugGuideTechnical Description, Adults: Chambers (1871)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Chambers (1871)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The head and thorax are glistening snowy white, while the antenna is dark above. The ground color of the forewing is glistening snowy white, but tinged with light golden towards the apex. Overlaying this are a series of narrow, blackish streaks or lines that are less than half the width of the forewing. An elongated dorsal spot is present on the dorsal margin just posterior to the base. Near the middle of the wing there is a narrow, oblique, blackish costal streak. Just behind it is a small, narrow blackish streak that is less oblique and opposes a similar small dorsal streak. These tend to meet to form a narrow, dark fascia (sometimes incomplete). There is a conspicuous circular black spot at the wing tip. Just anterior to this there are two relatively straight black costal streaks. At the tip of the wing are three blackish diverging streaks or thin lines in the cilia that tend to converge towards the apical spot. Finally, a blackish marginal line arches forward from near the apical spot towards the dorsal margin. There is often a broad area of golden wash that adjoins the marginal line on the anterior side. The hindwing and cilia are silvery white. Chambers (1871) noted that this species closely resembles P. vitifoliella, but differs in having antennae that are dark above (whitish in P. vitifoliella), a semi-oval dorsal spot (absent in P. vitifoliella), and the second costal streak that unites with the opposite dorsal streak to form a narrow fascia (these remain separated in P. vitifoliella).
Immatures and Development: The larvae produce long, linear superficial mines on the upper surfaces of leaves. The mines are restricted to the cuticle and epidermis and lack frass. They have a glistening whitish or greenish shine that resembles the tracks of snails, and they often parallel the mid-vein or lateral veins of leaves during at least some of their length. Sections of a mine often loop back on themselves as as larva feeds parallel to a vein, then crosses the vein and feeds in a parallel fashion in the opposite direction. Pupation typically occurs beneath a small folded edge of the leaf margin, but pupation chambers are occasionally produced away from the leaf margin.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Phyllocnistis vitegenella is found in eastern North America, and appears to have been introduced in the West based on disjunct populations in in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Oregon. In the East, populations occur in Ontario, Quebec, and throughout much of the eastern US to as far south as Florida, the Gulf Coast, and eastern Texas. As of 2020, we have records that range from the mountains to 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: Chambers (1871) reported that mines with larvae or pupae can be found from May-November, and the adults from June-November in Kentucky. As of 2020, our earliest record for mines is from early May.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Local populations are strongly associated with wild grapes, which are the primary hosts. Grapes inhabit a variety of forest and edge habitats, and often become established after soil disturbance or timbering. Representative habitats include forest edges along roadways and trails, mature hardwood or mixed hardwood-pine forests, and floodplains where they often arch over trees and shrubs near the water's edge.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae feed on wild grapes (Muscadinia and Vitis spp.; Robinson et al., 2010; Eiseman, 2019). Some of the known hosts include Muscadine (Muscadinia rotundifolia), Possum Grape (V. baileyana), Fox Grape (V. labrusca), Riverbank Grape (V. riparia), and Frost Grape (V. vulpina).
Observation Methods: The adults rarely appear at lights and most records are based on leaf mines. Photographs of adults are needed to better document phenotypes that occur in North Carolina, and are best obtained by rearing adults from the mines.
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: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is undoubtedly more common than our records suggest given that the mines are easily overlooked and that little effort has been put forth to document leafminers in the state.

 Photo Gallery for Phyllocnistis vitegenella - No common name

Photos: 27

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-30
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, John Petranka, Becky Elkin, Sally Gewalt on 2021-09-29
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, John Petranka, Becky Elkin, and Steve Hall on 2021-09-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-08-11
Randolph Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-10
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-08-03
Watauga Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-23
Avery Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-11
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-09
Catawba Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-11-09
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-16
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-18
Madison Co.
Comment: A view of the glistening whitish mine on wild grape (Vitis sp.)
Recorded by: F. Williams on 2020-07-16
Bertie Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-12
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2020-05-10
Wake Co.
Comment: The red arrows point to the tracks of Phyllocnistis vitegenella, and the far left red arrow shows the leaf fold that is diagnostic for that species. The other track with the white arrow is P. vitifoliella, with a much deeper mine and a well-developed frass trail.
Recorded by: jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-09-27
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2019-06-09
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2019-06-09
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-06-25
Wake Co.
Comment: An upper-surface linear mine on Muscadinia rotundifolia. This species produces a very shallow mine that barely penetrates the cuticle. Fresh mines resemble the slime trail of a snail.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-06-25
Wake Co.
Comment: A view of the lower leaf surface of Muscadinia rotundifolia with an upper-surface linear mine. This species produces a very shallow mine that is not visible from the lower surface.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-06-05
Wake Co.
Comment: An upper-surface linear mine on Muscadinia rotundifolia. This species produces a very shallow mine that barely penetrates the cuticle. Fresh mines resemble the slime trail of a snail.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2018-06-05
Wake Co.
Comment: A view of the lower leaf surface of Muscadinia rotundifolia with an upper-surface linear mine. This species produces a very shallow mine that is not visible from the lower surface.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-07-21
Scotland Co.
Comment: Several upper-surface linear mines on Muscadinia rotundifolia.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-06-23
Scotland Co.
Comment: Upper-surface linear mines on Muscadinia rotundifolia.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-06-23
Scotland Co.
Comment: Incomplete upper-surface linear mines on Muscadinia rotundifolia.
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2015-06-23
Scotland Co.
Comment: A view of the lower surface of Muscadinia rotundifolia with upper-surface linear mines .