Moths of North Carolina
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41 NC Records

Achatodes zeae (Harris, 1841) - Elder Shoot Borer



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: NoctuinaeTribe: ApameiniP3 Number: 932444.00 MONA Number: 9520.00
Comments: This genus contains two species, one Mexican and one from the eastern US, including North Carolina.
Species Status: Specimens from North Carolina have been barcoded and seem to match others from Georgia to Canada. However, there is an unusual amount of heterogeneity and additional specimens from throughout the range of the species should be studied.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Silver, J. C. 1933. Biology and morphology of the spindle worm, or elder borer. USDA Technical Bulletin 345, USDA, Washington, DC.; Forbes (1954); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium sized Noctuid. The ground color is crimson but overlaid with pinkish-brown; a distinctive patch of orange is present at the apex of the forewing, with the head and thorax the same color (Forbes, 1954).
Adult Structural Features: The male genitalia are quite characteristic: note the peculiar uncus which is curved under the tegumen; the aedeagus has a field of spines near the tip; and the vesica has one very distinct cornutus and a small sclerotized patch which may have had deciduous cornuti. In the female notice the sclerotized anal papillae which are pointed, a feature often found in females which insert their eggs into tight places such as elderberry shoots.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae bore into Elderberry and much of the life history has been described by Silver (1933). The larva is cream with two horizontal rows of black spots on each segment. Reports of the larva boring other plants need to be confirmed.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Found throughout the state
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: In the Mountains and Piedmont, there appears to be a single brood in mid-summer, while in the Coastal Plain there are two distinct broods.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: For most of the state, our records come from shallow impoundments, lake and stream shorelines, and other open wetlands, all where Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is common. Records from high elevations in the Mountains may reflect use of Red Elderberry (S. racemosa), which is strongly associated with Spruce-fir Forests and Northern Hardwoods, particularly in rocky areas (Weakley, 2015).
Larval Host Plants: Larvae bore into Elderberry and much of the life history has been described by Silver (1933). Reports of the larva boring other plants need to be confirmed.
Observation Methods: Adults are attracted to lights but there is no evidence they come to bait or to flowers.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is widespread and occupies fairly common types of habitats, including disturbed areas. Nonetheless, we have relatively few records for it. If high elevation populations are actually associated with Red Elderberry, they may be at risk due to climate change. Otherwise, it is probably secure within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Achatodes zeae - Elder Shoot Borer

Photos: 6

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-06-05
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-23
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-23
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Chris Talkington on 2015-06-15
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2012-07-13
Cabarrus Co.
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