Moths of North Carolina
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6 NC Records

Agonopterix argillacea (Walsingham, 1881) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: DepressariidaeSubfamily: DepressariinaeTribe: [Depressariini]P3 Number: 420102.00 MONA Number: 889.00
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: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Clarke (1941); Hodges (1974)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is primarily based on the description by Clarke (1941) and Hodges (1974). The labial palp, antenna, head, thorax, and forewing is pale grayish ocherous. The second segment of the labial palp is suffused and lightly speckled exteriorly with fuscous. The third segment has a sub-basal and sub-apical annulus (the former poorly defined), and the tip is blackish fuscous. The antenna is darker apically and the face is lighter than the rest of head. The thorax and base of the wing are pale gray and form a curved basal band that extends to the costa where it becomes diffuse and dissipates. The pale band adjoins a blackish-fuscous border that is more developed on the inner half of the wing. It quickly becomes diffuse posteriorly and grades into the the ground color of the forewing. The remainder of the forewing is sparsely speckled with black scales. A series of indistinct fuscous spots occurs along the costa and around the termen. At the basal one-third, there are two small black discal spots (rarely containing a few whitish scales) that are obliquely arranged one above the other. These are followed by two whitish discal spots on the cell. The spot at the end of cell (discal spot 'd' of Forbes, 1923) is often narrowly edged with blackish fuscous and brown scales, and is preceded by a similar, brown-edged white spot (discal spot 'c'). A blackish fuscous blotch or cloudy dusting is present near the middle of the wing that adjoins discal spot 'c' and often extends to discal spot 'd'. The cilia are concolorous with the ground color of the forewing. The hindwing and cilia are pale grayish ochreous, and the latter has a light-fuscous band at the base. The legs are pale grayish ochreous and suffused with blackish fuscous except at the joints. Hodges (1974) noted that this wide-ranging species is highly variable, with the ground color varying from pale to dark brown. This species is most similar to A. canadensis, but discal spots 'c' and 'd' are whitish versus black in A. canadensis.
Wingspan: 19-24 mm (Clarke, 1941)
Adult Structural Features: Clarke (1941) gives detailed descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae are polyphagous and feed primarily on woody vegetation. Very little is known about the larval ecology and life history.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Agonopterix argillacea is a very wide-ranging species. It occurs in Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, and in the western US from Washington south to California, and from Montana to Colorado. It is widespread in the eastern US, with the range extending from the northeastern states to eastern Texas and Florida. As of 2023, we only have a few records from the Piedmont and one from the low mountains.
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
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The habitats that are used in North Carolina are largely unknown. As of 2023, we only have a few records for the species, the majority of which are from residential neighborhoods.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are polyphagous and feed on deciduous hardwoods (Prentice, 1966; Hodges, 1974; Godfrey et al., 1987; Robinson et al. 2010; Beadle and Leckie, 2018). The reported hosts include Gray Alder (Alnus incana), False Indigo-bush (Amorpha fruticosa), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), Trembling Aspen (P. tremuloides), Common Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata), Bebb's Willow Salix bebbiana), Arroyo Willow (S. lasiolepis) and presumably several other willow species. Of these, only Amorpha, Ptelea, and species of Salix are common in North Carolina. The hosts that are used in North Carolina have not been documented as of 2023. Prentice (1966) found that willows were the most important hosts in Canada. - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights. The larval life history is poorly documented, so we encourage individuals to search for larvae on willows or other potential hosts.
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 currently do not have sufficient information on the distribution and abundance of this species in North Carolina to assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Agonopterix argillacea - No common name

Photos: 7

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-03-01
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-03-05
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-03-14
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-03-14
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-03-14
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2015-04-07
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2015-03-17
Warren Co.
Comment: This specimen is unusual in having the two discal spots At the basal one-third with white scales.