Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 35 NC Records

Dargida diffusa (Walker, 1856) - Wheat Head Armyworm Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: NoctuinaeTribe: HadeniniP3 Number: 932928.00 MONA Number: 10431.00
Comments: This is a large New World genus which recently has included the species formerly placed in Faronta. Three species occur in North Carolina. While primarily a genus of high altitude species in the West, Central and South America, our species occur at sea level with some penetrating the mountains.
Species Status: Specimens from North Carolina and elsewhere throughout its range have been sampled and there is very little variation at all, a situation often found in migrant species.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984; as Faronta diffusa); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954), as Faronta diffusaTechnical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Similar in size, coloration, and pattern to some of the Leucanias, but the more heavily streaked forewings and pearly-white hindwings are distinctive. Look for the elongated triangular mark below the apex of the forewing and a dark discal spot.
Adult Structural Features: The three species of Dargida have slightly different genitalia but can be more easily distinguished by their maculation.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are extremely variable in color pattern and are similar to those of D. rubripennis, which feed on at least some of the same species of grasses (see Wagner et al., 2011, for illustrations and a detailed description). Pupae overwinter in an underground cell (Wagner et al, 2011).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Recorded from most areas of the state, including the Barrier Islands and High Mountains, but records from the Piedmont are currently absent. Records from forested areas in the High Mountains probably represent migrants.
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: Our records do not show a distinct pattern of broods but there may be three.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Found most often in open habitats where either wet or dry grasses are abundant. Habitats include natural grasslands associated with maritime dunes and inland sandhills, but also include old fields.
Larval Host Plants: Caterpillars are known to feed on the seeds of a variety of grasses and will also attack grain crops.
Observation Methods: Adults come to light but their response to bait or flowers is unknown.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Compared to some of the other armyworm species, we have relatively few records for this species. Trapping fields of winter wheat may show the species to be more common but that is a habitat that is otherwise biologically unappealing.

 Photo Gallery for Dargida diffusa - Wheat Head Armyworm Moth

Photos: 2

Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, K. Kittelberger on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, K. Kittelberger on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.
Comment: