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Species Phthorimaea operculella - Potato Moth - Hodges#2011

Phthorimaea operculella - female emergence - Phthorimaea operculella emergence - Phthorimaea operculella new moths - Phthorimaea operculella new moths - Phthorimaea operculella P. operculella damage on tobacco - Phthorimaea operculella larvae - Phthorimaea operculella Tobacco(?) miner - Phthorimaea operculella
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Gelechioidea (Twirler Moths and kin)
Family Gelechiidae (Twirler Moths)
Subfamily Gelechiinae
Tribe Gnorimoschemini
Genus Phthorimaea
Species operculella (Potato Moth - Hodges#2011)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Potato Tuber Moth
Potato Tuberworm Moth
Potato Tuberworm (larva)
Potato Splitworm (larva)
Tobacco Splitworm (larva)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Gnorimoschema operculella
Bryotropha solanella
described in 1873 by url=]Zeller[/url], who originally placed it in genus Gelechia
genus brought out of synonymy by Polvony in 1993 (see Butterflies and Moths of the World)
Explanation of Names
operculella is Latin for "little lid or cover"
the only species in this genus in North America listed at All-Leps
wingspan 10-12 mm
larva length 10-12 mm
Adult: forewing slender, brownish-gray with scattered dark markings, especially along inner margin near base and along outer margin; hindwing slender, gray with long hairlike scales along inner and outer margins

Larva: body pale pinkish-white; each abdominal segment with a few black dots and small number of bristles; head brownish-black
cosmopolitan, it originated in Central or South America
potato storehouses, fields of potato, tomato, or tobacco, weedy areas where foodplants grow
adults fly from April to October outdoors, or any time of year indoors
larvae feed on potato tubers, the stem, leaves, and green fruit of tomatoes, leaves of tobacco, and various weedy members of the tomato family (Solanaceae)
Life Cycle
up to six overlapping generations per year; overwinters as an egg, larva, or adult, often in potato seed storehouses
Internet References
comprehensive species account (National Institute of Agronomic Research, France)
pinned adult image and damage caused in Oregon and Idaho (Potato Association of America)
pinned adult and live larva images plus species account (David Astridge and Harry Fay, Govt. of Queensland, Australia)
live adult image (
live larva image (Anne-Sophie Roy, European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, courtesy
pinned adult image and live adult image on hostplant both taken from this page (
pinned adult image by Eric LaGasa & WSDA (Moth Photographers Group)
species account (
hostplants parasitoids, and distribution in Europe (Leaf and Stem Mines of Flies and other Insects, UK)
presence in North Carolina; list citing 46 pinned specimens in collection, including locally collected specimens (North Carolina State U.)