Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 10 NC Records

Phyllonorycter aeriferella (Clemens, 1859) - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: LithocolletinaeP3 Number: 330257.00 MONA Number: 726.00
Comments: Phyllonorycter is a genus of small and often colorful moths, with 79 described species in North America. The larvae of most form underside tentiform mines on woody plants and pupate within the mines.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG; BugGuideTechnical Description, Adults: Clemens, 1859; Braun, 1908.Technical Description, Immature Stages: Clemens, 1859; Braun, 1908.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is mostly based on descriptions provided by Clemens (1859) and Braun (1908). The antenna is dark brown above and white beneath. The front of the head is silvery white, while the vertex, tuft, and ground color of the forewings vary from light brown to pale reddish saffron. There is often a golden hue from the middle to the base. The forewing has four silvery costal streaks and three dorsal streaks, all of which have a black margin on the anterior (basal) side except for the last costal streak. The first costal streak begins just before the middle of the wing and opposes a large, slightly curved, dorsal streak that begins more basally. Both streaks are often suffused with pale golden, are oblique, and have tapered tips that nearly touch one another. A second pair of dorsal and costal streaks occurs just beyond mid-length. The dorsal streak is more triangular-shaped and less oblique than the first dorsal streak. The dark margins of both the first and second pair of streaks extend beyond the white tips and often unite with their opposing margins. Beyond the second pair are the remaining costal streaks that project slightly anteriorly, and the third dorsal streak that is very reduced in size (sometimes not readily evident). The apical spot is small and black, with the scales behind it having a bluish luster. The marginal line at the base of the cilia is blackish and well defined, and the cilia are dark grayish with a fulvous hue. The hindwings are dark gray with fulvous cilia.
Wingspan: 7-8.5 mm (Braun, 1908)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on the undersides of oak leaves where each larva creates a small tentiform mine. The mines are initially whitish with epidermal wrinkles, but darken with age to become tan or brownish. Most mines have a one or two prominent longitudinal wrinkles down the center of the mine and tend to be oblong in shape. At maturity, the larva constructs an ovoid, flattened cocoon that is composed of silk and large amounts of frass (Clemens, 1859; Eiseman, 2019). The larva is cylindrically shaped, and has a pale brown head. The body is yellowish with a broad, vascular, reddish brown band (Clemens, 1859).
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: The distribution of Phyllonorycter aeriferella is rather poorly documented. In Canada, populations occur in Ontario and Quebec. In the eastern US, there are scattered records from Maine to as far west as Illinois, and southward to the Carolinas. As of 2021, our few scattered records for North Carolina are from all three physiographic regions of 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
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 more broods per year. Our earliest record for an adult in North Carolina is 12 April and an unoccupied mine was found on 27 June. Clemens (1859) found occupied mines in the fall, and Tracy Feldman found occupied mines in November in North Carolina. This suggests that individuals likely overwinter as larvae or pupae, with adult emergence occurring shortly after the spring leaf-out.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species exploits oaks, and is found in a wide variety of habitats that range from bottomland forests to drier forested bluffs and ridges.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae feed on a wide selection of oaks (Eiseman, 2019). Documented hosts include White Oak (Quercus alba), Swamp White Oak (Q. bicolor), Southern Red Oak (Q. falcata), Bear Oak (Q. ilicifolia), Shingle Oak (Q. imbricaria), Laurel Oak (Q. laurifolia), Burr Oak (Q. macrocarpa), Blackjack Oak (Q. marilandica), Rock Chestnut Oak (Q. montana), Chinquapin Oak (Q. muehlenbergii), Black Oak (Q. velutina), and Live Oak (Q. virginiana). As of 2021, we have records of this species using Chestnut Oak, Live Oak, White Oak, and either Southern Red Oak or Black Oak (young plant that was difficult to identify) in North Carolina.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to UV lights and have been successfully reared from leaf mines.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Oak-Hickory Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:
Comments: We currently do not have sufficient data on the distribution and abundance of this species within the state to accurately assess its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Phyllonorycter aeriferella - No common name

Photos: 16

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-10-20
Surry Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-10-11
Burke Co.
Comment: Mines with pupal cases were on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-10-10
Buncombe Co.
Comment: Mines with pupae were on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-10-10
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A backlit image of a mine with a frass covered pupa.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-10-10
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A frass-covered pupa that was removed from a mine on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-24
Henderson Co.
Comment: A group of occupied mines on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-24
Henderson Co.
Comment: Upper leaf surface that shows a mine with feeding damage.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-24
Henderson Co.
Comment: A frass-covered pupa that was removed from a mine on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-09-06
Durham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-27
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A view of the upper surface of a White Oak leaf with an unoccupied tentiform mine (see companion photo of the underside of the leaf).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-27
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A view of the lower surface of a White Oak leaf with an unoccupied tentiform mine (see companion photo of the upperside of the leaf).
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-06-27
Buncombe Co.
Comment: A view of a cocoon that was surrounded with frass. This one was removed from a dissected mine on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-27
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-27
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-09
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman and Charley Eiseman on 2018-07-28
Durham Co.
Comment: reared from Quercus falcata or velutina (young plant); collected on 14 July 2018, photo by Charley Eiseman).