Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFElachistidae Members: 1 NC Records

Ethmia longimaculella (Chambers, 1872) - Streaked Ethmia Moth


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: ElachistidaeSubfamily: EthmiinaeTribe: [Ethmiini]P3 Number: 420210.00 MONA Number: 999.00
Comments: Ethmia is a large genus of small moths, with over 125 species occurring in the New World, and around 240 species worldwide. North America has 52 species, but only five occur east of the Mississippi River (Powell, 1973).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Powell (1973)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Braun (1921)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Powell (1973) recognized two subspecies of E. longimaculella, including one from southern Texas (E. l. coranella) that has a continuous black line from the middle of the wing to the apex. The following description is primarily based on his description of a second form (E. l. longimaculella) that occurs in the Appalachian region, including North Carolina. The labial palp is white with smooth scales and scarcely reaches the base of the antenna. It has a broad brownish black band exteriorly on the second segment, and narrow basal and apical dark bands on the third segment. The antenna has dorsal scaling basally, and is silvery white with gray distally. The front of the head and crown are shining white, while the occipital tufts are brownish black at the mid-dorsum. The thorax is shining white and typically has four black spots on the posterior half. These are sometimes fused to form one or two small blotches. The ground color of the forewing is white, with a series of longitudinal streaks of varying lengths that occur along the entire length of the wing. A few black spots are usually intermixed with the streaks. In addition, there is a row of small black spots that begin at the inner margin at about two-thirds the wing length. These extend around the base of the fringe, then onto the costal margin. A thin sub-costal basal streak is usually evident that extends to about one-fourth the wing length where it nearly meets a shorter and more median black streak. A second black streak occurs slightly more dorsally near the middle of the wing, followed by a third near the wing tip. In addition to these larger streaks there are a series of small streaks and elongated spots that fill in the remainder of the forewing. The fringe is white, usually with a tinge of brownish below the apex. The hindwing is slightly narrower than the forewing. The ground color is whitish, but becomes pale brownish basally. The fringe is white. The front and middle legs are white with dark brown blotches. This species superficially resembles E. zelleriella, but lacks the yellowish-orange wash on the legs and abdomen.
Forewing Length: 9.0-10.0 mm for females; 10.5-11.2 mm for males (Powell, 1973).
Adult Structural Features: Powell (1973) has illustrations of the male and female genitalia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Braun (1921) found numerous larvae feeding on the leaves of Lithospermum latifolium in Ohio in July. According to Braun, the young larvae spin webs on the undersides of leaves. These stretch from the midrib to a lateral vein, and the larva at this stage only feeds on the lower leaf surface. Later, the larva folds the leaf upwards, and binds the margins together near the base where it spins an outwardly spreading fine web. The larvae are boldly marked. The head is blackish, the first thoracic segment golden, the second thoracic segment dark reddish brown, and the remaining segments somewhat paler brown with four irregular pale brownish yellow transverse bands. Older instars are dark with three white narrow, transverse bands behind the thorax (BugGuide). The cocoon is made of silk and bits of rubbish on the surface of the ground. Individuals overwintered in the cocoons and the adults emerged in mid-May of the following year.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Ethmia longimaculella is found in eastern North America, including southern Canada (Manitoba; Quebec; Ontario) and portions of the eastern US from Maine westward to Minnesota, and southward to eastern Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Local populations are associated with areas with calcareous soils that harbor the host plants and are generally absent from most of the southeastern US.
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 are active from April-August, with a peak in activity during May and June.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae feed on gromwells (Lithospermum spp.). These are typically associated with mesic to drier, calcareous habitats such as open woodlands, barrens, glades, or forest edges.
Larval Host Plants: The documented hosts are all Lithospermum species, including American Gromwell (L. latifolium), European Gromwell (Lithospermum officinale), and Eastern Prairie Marbleseed (Lithospermum parviflorum; = Onosmodium hispidissimum). The three documented hosts plants have not been found in North Carolina, but two occur nearby in limestone regions in eastern Tennessee. This species could potentially use Virginia False Gromwell (L. virginianum) or Hoary Puccoon (Lithospermum canescens), which both occur in North Carolina.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to UV lights.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SH
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We have only a single historical record from Transylvania Co. that may reflect a long-distance dispersal event from eastern Tennessee since there are no known Lithospermum populations in the area.