Moths of North Carolina
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8 NC Records

Agonopterix atrodorsella (Clemens, 1863) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: DrepressariidaeSubfamily: DepressariinaeTribe: [Depressariini]P3 Number: 420076.00 MONA Number: 864.00
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 (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Clarke (1941); Hodges (1974)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is based on descriptions by Clemens (1863), Clarke (1941) and Hodges (1974). Agonopterix atrodorsella is a distinctive species that has a pale-yellow to yellow-ocherous forewing with a dark brown base. The cell is overlaid with red-brown scales, and there is an elongated, brown, costal blotch just before the apex. A small dark brown spot is present at about one-third the wing length at the beginning of the cell, along with a small white spot posterior to this and just beyond one-half. The costa has a series of 4-8 small dark blotches along its margin. The thorax is black, while the head is dark fuscous. The antenna has a black, ochreous-tipped basal segment, while the remainder is fuscous and annulated with ochreous-fuscous. The face is blackish brown above and yellowish beneath. The labial palp is pale yellow with the second joint dusted with black exteriorly. The terminal segment has two dark fuscous rings, one near the base, and the other near the tip. The legs are yellowish white and strongly overlaid with blackish fuscous
except at the joints. The hindwing is light reddish fuscous.
Wingspan: 18-24 mm (Clarke, 1941)
Forewing Length: 9.0-11.5 mm (Hodges, 1974)
Adult Structural Features: Hodges (1974) noted that the male genitalia are not distinctive, and that the degree of sinuosity of the process of the sacculus varies. In the female, the ostium bursae is near the posterior margin of the eighth abdominal sternum, the anterior margin of the eighth sternum is broadly wedge shaped, the ductus bursae broadens gradually to the corpus bursae, and the latter bears a large, diamond-shaped signum.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Very little is known about the larval natural history and life cycle. The larvae appear to be leaftiers and feed on Sweet-fern and several species of composites. One specimen on BugGuide was light green with a thin median dark line and two broader dark longitudinal bands on each side.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Agonopterix atrodorsella is found in eastern North America and has a northern distribution. Populations occur in southern Canada from Prince Edward Island to Ontario, and in the US from the northeastern states westward to Illinois and Wisconsin. The southern limit is reached near Maryland and northern Kentucky, except for an apparent disjunct in the western North Carolina mountains. As of 2022, we have four site records from both the lower and higher elevations of the Blue Ridge.
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: Adults have been observed during almost every month of the year, but reach a peak in seasonal activity from April to June when breeding presumably occurs. The adults overwinter and become active following the spring warm-up. As of 2020, three of our records are from March, April and September. A fourth is for an overwintering adult that was on firewood that was brought indoors.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species uses Sweet-fern and several species of composites that are generally found in open, sunny habitats. Representative habitats include moist ditches and other low-lying areas, and fields, meadows, and woodland borders. Sweet Fern is a host that grows on dry ridgetops and open woods in the mountains.
Larval Host Plants: Hodges (1974) reported that the adults have been reared from Thoroughworts (Eupatorium spp.,) Tickseeds (Coreopsis spp., including C. tripteris), Devil's Beggar-ticks (Bidens frondosa), and Sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to UV lights.
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: We have only three site records as of 2020, which suggests that this species is uncommon within the state. More data are needed on its distribution and abundance before we can assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Agonopterix atrodorsella - No common name

Photos: 4

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-05-23
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-04-21
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-05-20
Madison Co.
Recorded by: jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-09-11
Madison Co.