Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
Family (Alpha):
« »
View PDFDepressariidae Members:
Agonopterix Members:
10 NC Records

Agonopterix lythrella (Walsingham, 1889) - No Common Name

view caption

view caption

view caption
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: DepressariidaeSubfamily: DepressariinaeTribe: [Depressariini]P3 Number: 420069.00 MONA Number: 857.00
Comments: Agonopterix is a large holarctic genus with more than 125 species, with most occurring in the Palearctic Region. Currently, there are 47 recognized species in North America. Our species are largely confined to the western mountains.
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie, 2012Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Hodges, 1974                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is based on the descriptions by Ely (1910), Clarke (1941), and Hodges (1974). The head, antenna, and thorax are light brown, and the thorax has a lateral dark streak that is usually evident. The labial palp is yellowish and mottled exteriorly with purplish fuscous. The third segment has an indistinct fuscous annulus at the base and just below the tip. Fresh specimens are intense reddish brown with a heavy reddish brown overlay on parts of the wing, particularly away from the costal margin where there are a series of faint lighter strigulae. Older specimens are grayish brown. A dark, curved streak is present on the cell beginning at about one-third the wing length, with a small white dot just beyond it that is often faint or missing. Varying levels of cream to whitish dusting is often present just posteriorly and laterally from the streak. Additional whitish dusting occurs in the post-median region, along the costa, and at the base of the wing where the scales are better organized and form a narrow transverse band that is preceded at the inner angle by a distinct black spot. The cilia are purplish gray with a narrow blackish fuscous line at the base. The tarsi usually have a distinctive color pattern with the first segment dark with a pale apex, the second, third, and base of the fourth segments dark brown, and the apex of the fourth and all of the fifth segment pale (Hodges, 1974). In some individuals the first segment may be nearly unicolorous, and the bases of the scales on the second and third segments may be pale. Agonopterix hyperella is similar but the forewing is gray to grayish brown and has a longer and broader curved streak. Agonopterix walsinghamella is also similar, but has grayish scales on the top of the thorax and head (versus light brown in A. lythrella). In addition, the curved streak is typically reduced to two spots.
Wingspan: 13-18 mm (Clarke, 1941)
Forewing Length: 5.5-8.0 mm (Hodges, 1974)
Adult Structural Features: Clarke (1941) note that the male genitalia of this species are nearly identical with those of several other Agonopterix. The clasper of the harpe, however, is much more slender than that of any of the other species. In the females A. hyperella lacks a signum, whereas one is present in A. lythrella.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Very little is known about the larval life history and ecology other than the host plants (see below).
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Agonopterix lythrella is found in eastern North America, including much of southern Canada from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick westward to Ontario. In the US it occurs in the northeastern states westward to Illinois and Wisconsin, then southward along the Appalachian Mountains to western NC. As of 2020, all of our records are from the mountains, and from sites that range from the low valleys to the highest peak.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Adults have been taken from May through December, with a peak in July and August. As of 2020, our North Carolina records are all from July and August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: We know little about the specific habitat requirements. This species may be monophagous on St. John's-worts (Hypericum spp.) in North Carolina. These species inhabit mesic to dry forested slopes as well as open, disturbed habitats such as roadsides, fields, and woodland borders.
Larval Host Plants: Hodges (1974) reported that the larvae feed on Winged Loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) and several species of Hypericum, including Spotted St. John's-wort (H. punctatum) and Virginia Marsh St. John's-wort (H. virginianum). Winged Loosestrife and Virginia Marsh St. John's-wort do not occur in western North Carolina where we have records, which suggests that Spotted St. John's-wort or other Hypericum species are the primary hosts. We have records from Mt. Mitchell where Mountain St. John's-wort (H. graveolans) and Blue Ridge St. John's-wort (H. mitchellianum) are suspected hosts. - View
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights. We recommend searching for the larvae and documenting the larval host and life history.
See also Habitat Account for St. John's-wort Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S2S4
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: As of 2020 we have only five site records, suggesting that this species is uncommon in North Carolina. More data on its distribution and abundance is needed before its conservation status can be accurately assessed.

 Photo Gallery for Agonopterix lythrella - No common name

Photos: 6

Recorded by: David George, L.M. Carlson, Becky Watkins on 2022-08-14
Avery Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-08-27
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-08-27
Madison Co.
Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
Comment: 7 traps (6 along Commissary Trail)
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-08-23
Madison Co.
Recorded by: J. B. Sullivan on 2017-08-26
Ashe Co.