Probably Unidentifiable Little White Moth

2024 January 21

This little white-to-cream-color moth was at our porch light on June 30, 2023. It was about the size and appearance of a small grass seed.

There are a ton of little moths that look about like this, they are mostly the adult form of various types of leaf-miner caterpillars. These are the ones that tunnel around inside of a leaf to eat the chlorophyll-containing cells, leaving the translucent upper and lower membranes of the leaf intact.

The closest thing to an actual identifying feature on this one is that it has kind of a messy tuft of hairy scales on its head, rather than a smooth head, along with pretty prominent eyes.

So, it could be one of the moths in the genus Bucculatrix, which have that kind of hairdo. Unfortunately, there are at least 100 species in this genus in North America, and the “Identification” information on BugGuide uses terms like “sight diagnosis problematic”. This usually means that unless I dissect it under a microscope, or run a DNA analysis, a positive ID is unlikely just from pictures. What is really ideal is to find them actually eating a leaf, identify the plant they are eating, and then raise them to adulthood to see what comes out.

And then consult something like Charley Eiseman’s massive Leaf Miners of North America.

One Response leave one →
  1. Steve Plumb permalink
    January 23, 2024

    Charley Eiseman and his partner’s labor of love the Leaf Miners of North America has opened my eyes to leafminers. What’s wrong with those leaves now has an answer!

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