Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 15 NC Records

Caloptilia azaleella (Brants, 1913) - Azalea Leafminer Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: GracillariinaeTribe: [Gracillariini]P3 Number: 330113.00 MONA Number: 592.00
Comments: Caloptilia is a large genus with nearly 300 described species; 64 species have been described from North America north of Mexico. The larvae mostly feed on woody plants and begin as leaf-mining sap-feeders. The latter instars usually exit the mines and feed within a conical roll that begins at the leaf apex or at the tip of a leaf lobe.
Species Status: The Azalea Leafminer is native to Japan and has been widely introduced around the world where azaleas are grown as ornamentals. In many areas they can reach high enough densities to become pests on ornamental plantings and in greenhouses.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Eiseman (2019)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The adults have a dark brown ground color on the upper head, thorax, and forewings with a conspicuous pale yellow patch that extends from about one-quarter of the basal region to near the apex. The patch is widest near the median area and narrows posteriorly. A row of minute dark dots typically occurs along the costal margin within the yellow patch, and two or more dark bands are often evident in the cilia. The tibia and femur of the front and middle leg are dark brown, and contrast with the white tarsi below that have dark marks near the tarsal joints. The rear leg is uniformly light straw-colored to whitish, with dark marks at the joints (often faint). The face is white and the labial palps are pale yellow with dark tips. Caloptilia superbifrontella is somewhat similar but lacks the conspicuous black spots near the tarsal joints (typical of azaleella) and has a yellowish streak at the base of the forewing that extends to the dorsum of the thorax. C. superbifrontella also typically lacks the fine black spots along the costa that are characteristic of C. azaleella.
Wingspan: 10-13 mm
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Females deposit eggs on the undersides of leaves, typically next to a midvein or lateral vein. The early instars form tentiform mines on the underside of the leaf. The later instars leave the mines and form feeding shelters on the underside of the leaves by folding or curling the leaf tips or edges. On azalea varieties with small leaves, the larvae often web several leaves together to form a shelter (Eiseman, 2019). The cocoon is about 6 mm by 2 mm and usually lies longitudinally on the underside of a leaf, partially protected by the leaf shelter (Eiseman, 2019). The pupal stage last about a week.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Although we have only a few records for North Carolina as of 2019, this species presumably occurs statewide.
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: C. azaleella is multivoltine, with the first seasonal generation beginning in April.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Because this species uses ornamental azaleas as hosts, it is primarily found in city, suburban, and rural landscapes where azaleas are planted.
Larval Host Plants: This species is only known to use azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) as hosts. Non-native, ornamental azaleas appear to be the primary hosts.
Observation Methods: Adults occasionally come to lights. Ornamental azaleas should be checked for evidence of leaf mines and leaf shelters.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [SNA]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: C. azaleella does not merit any conservation concerns given that it is an introduced species that appears to rely almost entirely on ornamental azaleas as hosts.

 Photo Gallery for Caloptilia azaleella - Azalea Leafminer Moth

Photos: 16

Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2020-05-26
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-04-27
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-04-13
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-04-08
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2020-03-27
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-02-05
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-08-28
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-06-18
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2019-05-27
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-27
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-27
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2019-04-09
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2018-07-08
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2017-10-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2014-04-22
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Harry Wilson on 2013-05-17
Wake Co.
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