Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFElachistidae Members: 31 NC Records

Antaeotricha leucillana Zeller, 1854 - Pale Gray Bird-dropping Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: ElachistidaeSubfamily: StenomatinaeTribe: [Stenomatini]P3 Number: 420227.00 MONA Number: 1014.00
Comments: The genus Antaeotricha is endemic to the New World and includes nearly 400 species of mostly neotropical species. Twenty species are currently recognized in North America.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Duckworth (1964)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Marquis et al. (2019)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This species is very similar to A. schlaegeri and the two cannot be reliably separated using photographs. The following description is based in part on the description by Duckworth (1964) and applies to both species. The face is white and the labial palp is white with a sprinkling of gray to dusky scales. The thorax is white dorsally with a conspicuous brownish-black tuft posteriorly. The ground color of the forewing is white, and the basal half has a dark brown or blackish patch that extends along the inner margin to one-third or more before phasing into gray. The remainder of the wing has a series of wormy, light gray to grayish brown marks that are more concentrated on the apical half. In addition to these, there are two broad subterminal bands and a narrower terminal band near the base of the fringe that are also light gray to grayish brown. The subterminal bands are sometimes blurred or otherwise indistinct, and the terminal band is often represented by a row of spots. The bands and wormy marks terminate before reaching the costa, except for one or two small marks near the wing base. The fringe has a series of four or five blackish spots near the base. The abdomen is white and the hindwing is very pale tan with white cilia. The legs are whitish, and the tarsi have a series of dark rings. The foreleg is generally more smoky than the others. Antaeotricha leucillana and A. schlaegeri are best distinguished by either size or genitalia. Wing length or total length measurements are essential for identification, and photo submissions must include a size reference such as a mm ruler or a coin. Adults from North Carolina typically measure between 12-14 mm total length versus 10 mm or less for A. leucillana.
Wingspan: 15-23 mm (Duckworth, 1964)
Adult Structural Features: Duckworth (1964) provides detailed descriptions and illustrations of the male and female genitalia. Male A. leucillana can be easily distinguished from those of A. schlaegeri by the presence of an uncus with a broadened bifid tip and a broad, apically flared aedeagus. The females have a reduced genital plate and small corpus bursae relative to females of A. schlaegeri.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on a variety of hardwoods, where they are presumably leaftiers. The mature larvae are pale greenish white. The head capsule is mottled brown and white with a black 'W' or 'M' mark across the frontal area and epicrania. Black genal stripes are present and the prothoracic shield is unmarked except for scattered spots, and sometimes a thin line on the anterior and lateral margins (Marquis et al., 2019). The mature larvae are virtually identical to those of A.schlaegeri and cannot be readily identified to species based on photographs.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: In the US, the range extends from the northeastern states westward to Iowa, eastern Kansas, and central Texas, and southward to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (Duckworth, 1964). In Canada, scattered populations occur from Alberta eastward to Nova Scotia (Pohl et al. (2018). As of 2020, our records show an essentially statewide distribution, with the species well-represented in all three physiographic provinces.
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: Populations in North Carolina appear to be univoltine. As of 2020, our records are from early April through mid-September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae are polyphagous and use numerous species of hardwood trees. Local populations occur in wooded residential neighborhoods as well as natural communities such as bottomland forests, mesic hardwood slopes, and mixed hardwood-pine forests.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae feed on a diverse group of hardwood trees, and do not strongly depend on oaks as is the case with A. schlaegeri. The known hosts (Robinson et al., 2010) include Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), Paper Birch (B. papyrifera), Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus asperifolia), American Ash (Fraxinus americana), Common Apple (Malus pumila), American Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata), Lombardy Poplar (P. nigra), Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Willow (Salix), American Basswood (Tilia americana), American Elm (Ulmus americana), Northern Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), and an ornamental shrub, Nepalese firethorn (Pyracantha crenulata).
Observation Methods: The adults occasionally visit lights.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S3S5
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Populations appear to be locally common where suitable hardwood forests are present.

 Photo Gallery for Antaeotricha leucillana - Pale Gray Bird-dropping Moth

Photos: 18

Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2021-05-29
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-11
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-05-06
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-04-30
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-04-30
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-04-29
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-04-28
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-04-11
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-07-18
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-07-18
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-17
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-17
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-17
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-06-15
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2018-08-28
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2018-07-14
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2018-07-14
Buncombe Co.
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