Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 2 NC Records

Phyllonorycter celtifoliella (Chambers, 1871) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: LithocolletinaeP3 Number: 330274.00 MONA Number: 742.00
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.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG; BugGuide; iNaturalistTechnical Description, Adults: Braun, 1908.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Phyllonorycter celtifoliella exhibits significant individual variation in patterning and coloration. This is primarily due to the extent to which the scales develop dark pigmentation to produce a dusted appearance. The following description is based primarily on Chambers (1871) and Braun (1908). The face is silvery white, and the outer surface of the palps are saffron with brown flecks. The antennae are brown with white annulations, and flecked with blackish scales. The tuft is reddish saffron to brown, with white scales intermixed. The thorax is reddish saffron anteriorly, but grades into brown posteriorly. There is a white line (sometimes absent) that crosses the anterior margin of the thorax, then extends to the forewing where it connects with a narrow median white basal streak that terminates before the first fascia. The ground color of the forewing is reddish saffron, but often so heavily dusted with dark brown that the reddish coloration is obscured to varying degrees. There are two fasciae that have dark brown coloration anteriorly and whitish scales posteriorly. The first fascia is at about one-third and the second near the middle. Both are strongly angulated posteriorly, and the white edge on the posterior margin often extends from the angle posteriorly as a white streak. (On specimens that have little dark dusting, these may appear as mostly whitish fasciae on a saffron background.) Between the second fascia and wing tip there are often two or more dark patches or elongated dark bars, along with an irregular white line or short costal streak near the wing tip. The cilia vary from pale reddish saffron to light brown, and have a dark brown marginal line. The legs have a whitish ground color that is often heavily dusted with brown, along with dark brown spots and blotches along their lengths.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The cylindrical, yellowish larvae make tent mines on the undersides of hackberry leaves. Mines examined by Eiseman (2019) were constructed between two veins and were elongated, but somewhat variable in shape. The pupa is suspended by a few silken threads.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Phyllonorycter celtifoliella is found in the eastern US where the host plants occur locally. Populations are most abundant in the Midwest, but occur eastward to Kentucky and West Virginia, and southward to Florida. As of 2020, we have only two records for North Carolina, and both are from the Piedmont.
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: The adults emerge in late September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is a specialist on hackberries (Celtis). One of the host, Celtis occidentalis, is uncommon in North Carolina and is mostly confined to the mountains and upper Piedmont where mafic or calcareous bedrocks occur. Celtis tenuifolia prevails further east, and is also found in nutrient-rich, circumneutral soils.
Larval Host Plants: The only known hosts are Northern Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) and C. pumila (cf. Celtis tenuifolia).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and have been successfully reared from leaf mines. We encourage moth enthusiasts to search for the leaf mines on the lower leaves of hackberries. Phyllonorycter celtisella also mines hackberry leaves, but constructs mines on the upper surface of leaves.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet-Dry Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection:

 Photo Gallery for Phyllonorycter celtifoliella - No common name

Photos: 4

Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-10-23
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-10-23
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2017-10-15
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2017-10-15
Wake Co.