Metallic Leaf-Borer Moth
Head: Smooth, metallic gray with various reflections. Back of head yellow. Nose cone (palpi) short, very slightly curved; yellow, last segment with metallic gray streaks.
Antenna: Long, reaching almost to wing tip. Thick, black with last 5 segments white.
Thorax: Shiny, metallic gray.
Wings: Base of wing metallic gray. From thorax tip of first set of metallic gray spots on inner margin its brown with a wide yellow stripe at each side of the brown. Outer (costal) margin has variable amounts of black scaling to mid-wing, rest orange. 5 raised metallic gray spots along the outer margin and 3 raised metallic gray spots along inner margin. Wing tip is black, irregular, with another very narrow, not raised, metallic gray spot transitioning into the black. Fringe dark gray. Hindwing dark gray including fringe.
Legs: Outer sides shiny gray scale, undersides cream.
Abdomen: Shiny gray, slightly darker than thorax; tip yellowish-brown.
Similar Species: Embola ionis has no black patch after thorax and no white on antenna tips.
All others have white antenna tips:
Chrysoclista villella has outer (costal) half of base of wing black. 1st silver spot on inner margin has black tuft. White spot on costal fringe.
Chrysoclista linneella has orange wing colour surrounded with black; 3 silvery spots.
Mompha terminella has dark wing tips and large, black tufts at mid-wing.
Euclemensia bassettella has a wide black inner margin from mid-wing to tip. Antenna last 1/3 white.
Neoheliodines nyctaginella (not in Ontario) has a black line around tip of thorax (technically inner margin of wing base). Except for white antenna tips, almost identical to Embola ionis.
Size: 7 to 8 mm long. Wingspan 10 to 13 mm.
Habitat: Meadows and forest edges.
Food: Wild Four O’clocks Mirabilis nyctaginea.
Flight Time: Mid-May to early June; mid-July to early August; partial 3rd generation late August to early September in Ontario.
Life Cycle: Females lay white, flattened eggs on the underside of Four O’clock leaves, usually at the base of the plant. Larvae burrow into underside of leaf and feed internally, often with more than one larvae in a leaf. By the 3rd instar, they move to the exposed underside of the leaf and feed under a silken web. The feeding creates white ‘windows’ on the upper side of the leaf.
The larva is pale green with a blackish head and two dark spots on shield, later blending into one large spot. Over-winters as a pupa. Two generations and a partial 3rd generation.
Comments: One found at Point Pelee on July 04, 2012. Listed as new to Canada per Pohl (2018). Wheatley 2008 – 2014.
Synonyms: Harrison & Passoa 1995
Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 1995, Vol. 97 #1 by Harrison & Passoa, pp. 63 to 69.
University of California Publications in Entomology, 2004, Vol. 124 by Hsu & Powell, pp. 51 to 53.
Holotype as Heliodines cliffordi male by Harrison & Passoa, 1995. Type Locality: Illinois. In the United States National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.