Moths of North Carolina
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10 NC Records

Tischeria quercitella Clemens, 1863 - Oak Blotch Miner Moth

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Superfamily: Tischerioidea Family: TischeriidaeSubfamily: [Tischeriinae]Tribe: [Tischeriini]P3 Number: 230001.00 MONA Number: 144.00
Comments: The genus Tischeria currently contains four recognized species of leafminers in North America. All but one species (T. quercitella) specialize on Ceanothus.
Field Guide Descriptions: Leckie and Beadle, 2018.Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Braun, 1972Technical Description, Immature Stages: Braun, 1972                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following is from Braun's (1972) description of adults based on studies of 95 specimens from throughout the range of the species. The face is ocherous, and the tuft is brownish ocherous. The scape of the antenna is brownish ocherous, while the shaft is ocherous and becomes darker towards the tip. The forewing is orange-ocherous, and the scales of the entire wing surface are tipped with brown to produce a finely dusted appearance. The wing is darker along the costa, especially in the outer half. The scales in the apical area are more conspicuously dark-tipped and appear coarser. At the tornus, there is a dark brown or blackish patch (very rarely missing), and the cilia are fuscous. The hindwing and cilia are fuscous and have a faint reddish tinge. The legs are pale brownish ocherous, and the spurs of the hind tibiae are brown. The abdomen is pale ocherous, and more or less dusted. Two features that help to distinguish this species are the presence of a dark brown or blackish patch at the tornus (anal angle), and the fact that all scales on the forewing surface are tipped with brown. The leaf mines of T. quercitella are also very distinctive since this is the only oak-feeding tischeriid in North America that spins a circular nidus. The nidus is overlain with radiating dark purplish lines that are unique to this species.

Wingspan: 7.0-7.5 mm (occasionally less; Braun, 1972)
Adult Structural Features: Braun (1972) provides keys for identifying males and females based on genitalia. Her verbatim descriptions of the genitalia are as follows: vinculum triangular, blunt anteriorly; harpes with ventral margins angled, bases of sacculi thickly sclerotized and fused together, near the base a setose elongate lobe, cucullus defined, elongate; transtilla absent; anellus a curved plate, bifurcate toward tip, two curved short pointed prongs at base bordering a semicircular orifice; stalk of aedeagus short, slightly expanded at base, forks long, narrowing to the linear acute tips; forks of uncus elongate, erect, setose, separated from tegumen by a sclerotized band. Female genitalia: ovipositor lobes large, rounded, and clothed with short, very slender peg setae; lateral lobes very small, setae long; posterior apophyses slender, tapering to acute tips; sternite of 8 heavily sclerotized, emitting at its posterior median margin a sharp thorn-like process, the arms of patibulum short, arising laterally; prela long, slender, tapering to acute curved apices; enlarged portion of ductus bursae with two broad bands of microscopic spinules. Braun (1972) noted that the unique male genitalia of this species set T. quercitella apart from all other North American tischeriids.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larva produces a distinctive mine that is characterized by a circular, slightly raised nidus with radiating dark purplish lines (Braun, 1972; Eiseman, 2019). The hatchling initially creates a minute translucent area that later appears at the edge of the nidus, which is solid white and densely lined with silk. The larva produces a blotch mine that it enlarges irregularly, and frass is ejected through a circular hole adjacent to the translucent area. At emergence, the pupa is thrust through the loosened epidermis at the edge of the nidus near the beginning of the mine.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Tischeria quercitella is widely distributed in eastern North America from southern Canada (Ontario; New Brunswick) southward to Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Our records for North Carolina are primarily from the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, with one record from Buncombe Co. (iNaturalist).
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 are multivoltine and are active from the spring leaf-out to late summer or early autumn.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larvae of Tischeria quercitella mine oak and chestnut leaves, and the species is restricted to habitats with the host species.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae primarily mine the leaves of oaks, but occasionally use American Chestnut (Castanea dentata). Documented oak hosts include White Oak (Quercus alba), Bear Oak (Q. ilicifolia), Shingle Oak (Q. imbricaria), Chestnut Oak (Q. montana), Water Oak (Q. nigra), Northern Red Oak (Q. rubra), and Black Oak (O. velutina).
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to UV lights. Searching for the distinctive leaf mines on oaks and chestnuts could yield many new locality records.
See also Habitat Account for General Oak-Hickory Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S3S4
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.

 Photo Gallery for Tischeria quercitella - Oak Blotch Miner Moth

Photos: 11

Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2022-06-13
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-10-11
Burke Co.
Comment: A mine on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-10-11
Burke Co.
Comment: A mine on Chestnut Oak.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-30
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Rob Van Epps on 2020-08-30
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2020-04-24
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-04-17
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2019-06-24
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2019-06-24
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2014-05-28
Durham Co.
Recorded by: F. Williams, S. Williams on 2013-08-29
Gates Co.