Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 10 NC Records

Xestia perquiritata (Morrison, 1874) - Boomerang Dart


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: NoctuinaeTribe: NoctuiniP3 Number: 933606.00 MONA Number: 10962.00
Comments: One of fifty species in this genus that occurs in North America north of Mexico (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010), nine of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Xestia perquiritata was placed in the Sincera Species Group of Subgenus Pachnobia by Lafontaine (2004). This group includes only two species in North America, both of which are primarily boreal. Perquiritata itself comprises two subspecies, with only the nominate form occurring in the East.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954, as Noctua perquiritata); Lafontaine (2004); Pogue (2006)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Xestia perquirtitata is a medium-sized Noctuine, with forewings mottled in pale and dark gray, and hindwings usually a somewhat contrastingly paler gray. The antemedian and postmedian lines are black and dentate, edged with white or pale gray. Both the orbicular and reniform spots are pale gray or white; the orbicular is small and circular and the reniform has a distinctive boomerang shape (Forbes, 1954; Lafontaine, 2004). A North Carolina specimen illustrated in Pogue (2006) has a blackish median area, with contrastingly pale basal, subterminal and terminal areas.
Adult Structural Features: Male genitalia are distinctive and are characterized by a short clasper and the apically-pointed valve (see Lafontaine, 2004, for more details and illustrations).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: A larva illustrated in Wagner et al. (2011) is mottled pale and dark gray, with a series of pale, boot-shaped spots on the lower sides.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Known in North Carolina only from the highest elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains.
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: Univoltine, flying in July and early August (Pogue, 2006)
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: All of our records come from Spruce-Fir Forests at the highest elevations in the Mountains.
Larval Host Plants: Oligophagous, feeding on Spruce, Fir, and Larch (Wagner et al., 2011)
Observation Methods: Comes to blacklights but we have no records from bait or from flowers.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Spruce-Fir Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 S1
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species, along with Plactarctia parthenos and Eilema bicolor, appears to have one of the most restricted ranges in North Carolina, occurring as a Pleistocene relict only at the highest elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains. It is also an extreme habitat specialist, occurring only in Spruce-Fir Forests, one of our most endangered types of habitats. In addition to the currently ongoing declines due to the depredations by the introduced Balsam Wooly Adelgid and the adverse affects of acidic precipitation, this habitat is one of the most likely to be affected by global climate change. Once gone -- with the next nearest populations in New England and northern New York State -- this species is unlikely to ever return to the Southern Appalachians.

 Photo Gallery for Xestia perquiritata - Boomerang Dart

Photos: 5

Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2020-08-15
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2020-08-14
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2020-08-13
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
Comment: