Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members:
Dargida Members:
6 NC Records

Dargida aleada Smith, 1908 - An Armyworm Moth

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: NoctuinaeTribe: HadeniniP3 Number: 932932.00 MONA Number: 10435.00
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: Individuals from North Carolina barcode as though they are a different species (about 4% different) compared to those from the coast of Texas (type locality, Texas). However, we have not been able to identify any other characters that will separate our species from that found in Texas and so we are using the current name until that changes.
Field Guide Descriptions: Not in either field guideOnline Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Good descriptions of the adults appear to be lacking except for Smith's original description (available through BugGuide).                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This species resembles our other Dargida species but is largely unmarked, the forewing is straw-colored, and the hindwing is white. While it looks much like some species of Leucania that fly in sand dunes, it lacks all traces of forewing lines and dark postmedial and marginal spots that are typical of that genus. The apex of the forewings is also more pointed than in Leucania species and the outer margin more oblique. Worn specimens of males can be easily distinguished from Leucania spp. by genitalic features.
Adult Structural Features: The three species of Dargida have slightly different genitalia but are probably more easily identified by their maculation. Males can be easily distinguished from those of Leucania by their possession of a well-developed corona (see Forbes, 1954). They differ from the species of Mythimna in both the shape of the cucullus as well as having a simple corona rather than a diffuse set of spines covering the cucullus (Forbes, 1954).
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Apparently unrecorded
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Appears to be restricted to outer shorelines of the Barrier Islands.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Adults have been taken in mid July but that is a strange emergence time for a single brooded species. There may be a spring and fall brood as well.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is associated with dunes along the beaches of North Carolina, and seems to be most common in the vegetation closest to the ocean.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae undoubtedly feed on coastal grasses, probably the seed heads, but have never been found. - View
Observation Methods: Adults come to light but their response to bait or flowers is unknown.
See also Habitat Account for Maritime Dune Grass and Forblands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SH
State Protection: Listed as Significantly Rare by the Natural Heritage Program. That designation, however, does not confer any legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Very few records exist for this species from anywhere within its range and the form we have is also likely to represent a different species than the type for this species collected in Texas. If it turns out to feed on Sea Oats or one of the other common beach grass species, it should be expected to turn up in more places. Larval searches are needed to determine the host plants and may also give a better picture of its distribution and abundance than the few records we have for the adults. As a maritime dune grass species, it may adversely affected by sea level rise, particularly in areas, such as the Outer Banks, where barrier islands may disappear.