Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFAmphisbatidae Members: 39 NC Records

Psilocorsis quercicella Clemens, 1860 - Oak Leaftier Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gelechioidea Family: AmphisbatidaeSubfamily: [Amphisbatinae]Tribe: [Amphisbatini]P3 Number: 420259.00 MONA Number: 955.00
Comments: Psilocorsis is a small genus with around 15 described species and several undescribed forms. They range from southeastern Canada to northern South America, but appear to be absent from the West Coast (Hodges, 1974). Seven species occur in North America north of Mexico (Pohl et al., 2016), three of which have been recorded in North Carolina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Leckie and Beadle (2018)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923); Clarke (1941); Hodges (1974)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Clemens (1860); Forbes (1923)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is primarily based on descriptions in Forbes (1923) and Clarke (1941). The head and thorax are dark yellowish brown and the labial palp is slender, strongly recurved, and pointed. The second segment of the labial palp is ochreous with a dark fuscous longitudinal stripe beneath, while the third segment is fuscous with a median and lateral longitudinal whitish stripe. The basal segment of the antenna is dark yellowish brown above with fuscous and white longitudinal stripes beneath. The antenna is yellowish brown above with darker annulations. The ground color of the forewing is also yellowish brown, but mottled with irregular, short, dark brown to blackish striae and elongated blotches. A dark reniform spot is present, and there is usually a more diffuse dark shading that extends from the middle of the wing to the inner margin. In some specimens the shading may extends beyond the middle, but it is less developed on the costal half. A distinctive adterminal line is composed of dark spots that nearly fuse (rarely fusing completely to form a complete line). The cilia are fuscous with a darker sub-basal band, while the hindwing and cilia are pale ochreous-fuscous. The legs are whitish ochreous with the fore tibiae and tarsi shaded with fuscous. The abdomen is yellowish brown above and whitish ochreous beneath. Psilocorsis quercicella and P. cryptolechiella are superficially similar, but P. quercicella lacks the narrow, elongated striations found in P. cryptolechiella. The transverse dark markings of P. quercicella are broken and mostly in the form of small, diffuse, and somewhat elongated blotches of dark scales that dust the forewing. The dark suffusion of the forewing at two-thirds is usually in the form of a diffuse blotch that extends from the middle of the wing to the inner margin. In P. cryptolechiella the region typically extends as a dark, diffuse band or dark dusting across the entire wing. Psilocorsis quercicella is much smaller than P. reflexella and has a darker fringe and more complete set of dark adterminal spots.
Wingspan: 13-16 mm (Clarke, 1941)
Forewing Length: 5.5-7.5 mm (Hodges, 1974)
Adult Structural Features: Clarke (1941) provides detailed descriptions of the male and female genitalia. This species can be distinguished from P. cryptolechiella by the cornuti, which consist of a patch of long spines. In P. cryptolechiella they consist of one long stout cornutus and a patch of very fine ones. In the female of P. quercicella the base of the ductus bursae is uniformly slender and very lightly sclerotized, In P. cryptolechiella it has two discrete sclerotized patches, one at the base and the other distad (Hodges, 1974). The hair pencil from the first abdominal segment of the male is strongly developed in both species (Clarke, 1941).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae are leaf skeletonizers that live in a silk and frass nest between tied leaves. The tied leaves often have 1-3 larvae, and the larvae of other species sometimes reside with P. quercicella within the nests (Marquis et al., 2019). In Missouri the larvae occur from May through October and are bivoltine (Carroll and Kearby, 1978). At maturity, they drop to the ground and pupate in dried leaves without spinning a cocoon. Overwintering occurs in the pupal stage. The larvae have a dark, punctate head and three very dark thoracic segments. The overall color is greenish or yellowish, and the sides have two rows of small tubercles (Clemens, 1860). Marquis et al. (2019) noted that this is the only species of Psilocorsis in North America with an intensely pigmented thorax.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Psilocorsis quercicella is found throughout much of the eastern US. and in adjoining areas of southern Canada (Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; Nova Scotia). In the US, the range extends westward to eastern Minnesota, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas, and southward to the Gulf Coast and Florida. As of 2020, our records extend from coastal forests to lower elevations in the mountains. Populations appear to be far less prevalent in the Coastal Plain than elsewhere in 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
Flight Comments: Adults have been collected from January through October in different areas of the range, with a seasonal peak from April through August. As of 2020, our records are from early May through early October. Most local populations appear to be bivoltine, with the first brood in May and June, and a second in July-September (Hodges, 1974).
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is dependent on hardwoods for successful reproduction, and appears to rely more on oaks than any other group of hardwoods (Marquis et al., 2019). Most of our records are from the Piedmont and lower elevations of the mountains in oak-hickory forests, mixed conifer-hardwood forests or in wooded residential areas.
Larval Host Plants: Oaks appear to be the primary hosts (Clarke, 1941; Hodges, 1974, Robinson et al. 2010; Marquis et al., 2019), but the larvae also feed on American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) and American Beech (Fagus grandifolia). Oaks that are used include White Oak (Quercus alba), Scarlet Oak (Q. coccinea), Shingle Oak (Q. imbricaria), Bur Oak (Q. macrocarpa), Blackjack Oak (Q. marilandica), Chinquapin Oak (Q. muehlenbergii), Water Oak (Q. nigra), Northern Red Oak (Q. rubra), Post Oak (Q. stellata), Black Oak (Q. velutina) and Live Oak (Q. virginiana).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights, and the larvae can be found beneath the tied leaves of oaks, American Beech and other host plants.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Oak-Hickory 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 widespread and somewhat common in the Piedmont and lower mountains despite the fact that many hardwood forests have been timbered and replaced with agricultural lands or stands of pines.

 Photo Gallery for Psilocorsis quercicella - Oak Leaftier Moth

34 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-09-06
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-19
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-05
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-22
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-08-01
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-07-28
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-17
Buncombe Co.
Comment: These two White Oak leaves were bound together by the larva inside; an adult Psilocorsis quercicella was reared from the larva.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-03
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-06-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-06-02
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2020-05-24
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-02
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-09-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-09-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-08-10
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2019-07-31
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2019-07-31
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-19
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2019-06-01
Stokes Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-17
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-13
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-13
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn on 2018-07-25
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-22
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-15
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2017-06-16
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2017-06-15
Cabarrus Co.
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