Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNepticulidae Members:
Stigmella Members:
2 NC Records

Stigmella castaneaefoliella (Chambers, 1875) - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Nepticuloidea Family: NepticulidaeP3 Number: 160011.00 MONA Number: 90.00 MONA Synonym: Nepticula castaneaefoliella
Comments: Members of the genus Stigmella are a group of small leaf-mining moths that typically create linear mines, although a few species form linear-blotch or blotch mines. Newton and Wilkinson (1982) recognized 51 species in their revision on the North American fauna, and new discoveries have since raised the total to around 57 species. Almost all species are specialists and rarely use more than one genus of host plants. Host-specificity, mine characteristics, and genitalic differences are helpful in recognizing closely related forms that are externally similar.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Wilkinson and Scoble (1979); Newton and Wilkinson (1982)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wilkinson and Scoble (1979); Eiseman (2019)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is based on the redescription by Wilkinson and Scoble (1979). The maxillary palp is gray and the labial palp brownish. The antenna is gray and the eye-cap shining white. The tuft on front of head and the vertex are dark brown, while the collar is white with white reflections. The thorax and abdomen are grayish brown. The forewing varies from dark brown to grayish-brown, and the fringe is gray with a purplish tinge. The legs are gray with irregular buff patches. Because the external features are very similar to those of S. flavipedella and S. sclerostylota, this species is best identified using genitalia (Newton and Wilkinson, 1982).

Wingspan: 3.8-4.8 mm (Wilkinson and Scoble, 1979)
Adult Structural Features: The following is based on Wilkinson and Scoble (1979) description of the genitalia. On the male, the medial posterior edge of the ventral plate of the vinculum has a slight convex bulge. The tegumen is wide and bluntly rounded. The saccus is weakly bilobed and the uncus consists of a pair of long papillate lobes. The gnathos is M-shaped and comprises a pair of posteriorly pointing, widely separated horns, and a pair of laterally directed spines. The valves have a weakly differentiated cuiller and a pointed style from which arise a number of scales, each comprising a long shaft, reaching approximately one-third of length of valve and not terminating in digitate lamina. The transtilla is stout and the lateral arms are short and straight, with each terminating in a large triangular-shaped plate. The apices just fail to meet, and thus form an incomplete horizontal bar. The aedeagus has a striate, arcuate plate on the vesica and a patch of short, stout spine-like cornuti. On the female, the anal plate has a pair of triangular lobes. The ductus bursae is approximately the same length as the apophyses, and widens gradually to the bursa copulatrix. The accessory sac is adorned with denticles. The bursa copulatrix is large, with weak chain-like denticulate marks in the area where it merges with the ductus. Otherwise, it is covered by minute pectinations and with a U-shaped signum formed by the increased density and size of these marks. The anterior apophyses is broad basally and the posterior apophyses is long, straight and narrow. The genitalia of S. castaneaefoliella are similar to those of the closely related S. latifasciella and S. saginella. Wilkinson and Scoble (1979) provide details on how to distinguish between these species.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable only by close inspection of structural features or by DNA analysis.
Immatures and Development: The larva is bright green and forms a long, narrow, contorted linear mine on the upper leaf surface (Eiseman, 2019). Mines from North Carolina have a maximum width of about 0.9-1.4 mm. The dark frass is deposited in a narrow, central line, or occasionally in zigzag arcs. The larva exits through the lower epidermis and spins a buff to ocherous cocoon (Eiseman, 2019). There appear to be two or three generations per year (Wilkinson and Scoble, 1979). This species can be readily identified by its host plant (American Chestnut) and the bright green larva.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Stigmella castaneaefoliella have been documented at scattered locales in the eastern North America, including Ontario, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida (Newton and Wilkinson, 1982; Eiseman, 2019). As of 2021, our two records are both from the mountains.
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: Local populations appear to have two or three generations per year, with the northernmost populations having only two. In the US, the adults have been reared in May, June to July, and August, suggesting three generations per year (Wilkinson and Scoble, 1979). As of 2021, we have an unoccupied mine from July and an occupied mine from mid-September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Populations appear to be strongly dependent on American Chestnut as a host plant. This species is most commonly encountered in mesic to somewhat drier upland sites, particularly in Montane Oak-Hickory Forests (see the habitat account for Castanea Forests)
Larval Host Plants: The larvae appear to be monophagous on American Chestnut (Castanea dentata). We are unaware of any records of this species using Allegheny Chinquapin (C. pumila).
Observation Methods: The adults rarely visit lights and require genitalia for accurate identification. We recommend searching American Chestnut leaves during the summer months for the leaf mines with bright green larvae.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Chestnut Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S1S3
State Protection:
Comments: This species appears to be rather rare in North Carolina, but more effort is need to search for the mines on American Chestnut.

 Photo Gallery for Stigmella castaneaefoliella - No common name

Photos: 5

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-18
Madison Co.
Comment: A backlit image of a mine on American Chestnut with a bright green larva at the end. Maximum diameter of mine = 0.9 mm.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-18
Madison Co.
Comment: A backlit image of a mine on American Chestnut with a bright green larva at the end. Maximum diameter of mine = 1.4 mm.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-18
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-23
Graham Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mine was on American Chestnut; maximum width of mine was 0.9 mm.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-23
Graham Co.
Comment: Unoccupied mine was on American Chestnut; maximum width of mine was 0.9 mm.