Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 2 NC Records

Phyllonorycter fitchella (Clemens, 1860) - No Common Name



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: LithocolletinaeTribe: [Lithocolletini]P3 Number: 330287.00 MONA Number: 752.00
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: Braun, 1908                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is primarily based on Clemens' original description (in Braun, 1908). The face, head, tuft, and thorax are silvery white, while the antenna is pale saffron with a silvery white basal joint. The ground color of the forewings is pale reddish saffron. There are five silvery white costal streaks, and all except the first have a dark margin on the anterior edge. The first streak is very oblique and continued along the costa from the base of the wing to one-third or more of the length. The remaining four costal streaks are short and do not reach the mid-point of the wing. The forewing also has two conspicuous silvery dorsal streaks that have dark margins on the anterior edge (sometimes faint or missing on the first streak). The first streak is very large, near the middle of the wing, and tapers to a tip that is opposite the tip on the second costal streak. The second dorsal streak is opposite the third costal streak. A small round black spot is present at the wing tip, and there often is a black hook in the cilia above the spot. The cilia is silvery gray and tinted with saffron. The hindwing is grayish fuscous with paler cilia. Phyllonorycter fitchella is easy to identify based on the white head and thorax, the first costal streak that runs along the costa, and the very broad dorsal streak that tapers to a tip that is opposite the tip on the second costal streak.
Wingspan: 7.5-8 mm (Braun, 1908)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae produce lower-surface tentiform mines on oak leaves that are roughly elliptical to nearly circular in shape. The lower epidermis is slightly and finely wrinkled when mature. In mines examined by Eiseman (2019) there was a prominent central crease in addition to the fine wrinkles. The frass was deposited in a mass at one end of the mine. The pupa is suspended in a slight web rather than a distinct cocoon, and the pupal exuviae are left protruding from the end of the mine opposite the frass mass (Braun, 1908; Eiseman, 2019).
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Phyllonorycter fitchella is widely distributed in North America. In Canada is occurs from British Columbia to Quebec. In also occurs throughout much of the eastern US and as far west as Colorado. As of 2020, our only North Carolina records are from Scotland and Wake counties.
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)

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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: At least bivoltine
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Phyllonorycter fitchella specializes on oaks, and prefers members of the white oak group. It occurs in a variety of hardwood and mixed hardwood-pine forests, as well as urban settings.
Larval Host Plants: The known hosts are White Oak (Quercus alba), Swamp White Oak (Q. bicolor), Bear Oak (Q. ilicifolia), Burr Oak (Q. macrocarpa), Sand Post Oak (Q. margaretta), Rock Chestnut Oak (Q. montana), Dwarf Chinquapin Oak (Q. prinoides), and Post Oak (Q. stellata). Tracy Feldman found mines on Q. margaretta in Scotland Co.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to UV-lights, and can be reared from the tentiform mines on oak leaves.
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: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We currently do not have sufficient information on the distribution and abundance of this species to accurately assess its conservation status within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Phyllonorycter fitchella - No common name

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman and Charley Eiseman on 2017-10-31
Scotland Co.
Comment: A view of two lower-surface tentiform mines on Quercus margaretta. The mines overwintered in a refrigerator and an adult emerged on 5-7-2018 (see companion photo of the adult).
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman and Charley Eiseman on 2017-10-31
Scotland Co.
Comment: A view of two lower-surface tentiform mines on Quercus margaretta. The mines overwintered in a refrigerator and an adult emerged on 5-7-2018 (see companion photo of the adult).
Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman and Charley Eiseman on 2017-10-31
Scotland Co.
Comment: An adult that was reared on Quercus margaretta. Mines were collected on 2017-10-31 and overwintered in a refrigerator. The adult emerged on 5-7-2018 (see companion photos of the mines). Photo by Charley Eiseman.