Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 1 NC Records

Schinia indiana (Smith, 1908) - Phlox Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: HeliothinaeP3 Number: 932069.00 MONA Number: 11095.00
Comments: One of 126 species in this genus that occur in North America (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010, 2011), the majority of which occur in the West; 25 have been recorded in North Carolina.
Species Status: Wray's specimen -- the only one known from North Carolina -- was examined by D.F. Schweitzer in 1994, who doubted that it actually represents true Schinia indiana (see also comments in Schweitzer et al., 2011).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Hardwick (1958); Hardwick (1996); Schweitzer et al. (2011)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Hardwick (1958)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A small, purplish-red Flower Moth. The head and thorax are dark brown to olive. The abdomen is also dark but with fine pale lines at the ends of the segments and a yellow tuft at the posterior tip. The forewings are violet red, with variations in intensity between zones -- the basal and subterminal areas are darker than the median and terminal areas -- but there are no dark or pale lines separating these region (e.g., no distinct antemedian, postmedian, or subterminal lines). The hindwings are chocolate brown and both pairs of wings have contrasting whitish-gray fringes. Sexes are similar. In our area, only Schinia sanguinea form gloriosa has purplish forewings and dark hindwings, but it also has more distinct white lines on the forewings.
Wingspan: 15.4-19.5 mm (Hardwich, 1958; Schweitzer et al., 2011)
Adult Structural Features: Foretibiae are armed with only one inner terminal claw but 2-3 accessory spines are present on both the inner and outer sides (Hardwick, 1958). Male and female reproductive structures are described and illustrated by Hardwick, but distinctive features are not identified.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Early stages and life history are described in detail by Hardwick (1958). Larvae feed on the seeds and capsules of Phlox. Mature larvae are greenish with a dark brown dorsal stripe (see illustrations in Hardwick).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Our only known record comes from the vicinity of Highlands in the southern 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, with adults flying early in the season -- unusual for Schinias -- with collections in the vicinity of Chicago ranging from late May to mid-June (Hardwick, 1958).
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Most of the habitats where this species has been recorded in the Midwest consist of open sand ridges (Kwiat, 1908), barrens, dry woodlands, and ecotonal or disturbed habitats (Schweitzer et al., 2011). The habitat where the North Carolina specimen was collected is unknown, but dry ridges and rocky barrens are found in the vicinity.
Larval Host Plants: Possibly monophagous, with Downy Phlox (Pholx pilosa) being the only host plant observed in the wild (Kwiat, 1908; Hardwick, 1959; Schweitzer et al., 2011). However, Hardwick (1958) was able to rear captive larvae on Phlox divaricata -- a blue-flowered species -- which suggests that other species could exist. This also seems likely in North Carolina, since Phlox pilosa has not been recorded in the area where the moth was found (it does occur, however, in the eastern Piedmont and Coastal Plain). Several other species of Phlox occur in the southern Mountains, with the pink-flowering species the most likely as hosts.
Observation Methods: Adults apparently do not come to lights (Schweitzer et al., 2011) and most, if not all, records have come from direct searching for adults or larvae resting on the flowers of their host plants.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: [SR]
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G2G4 [SH]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is known from fewer than twenty locations throughout its range, which is located mainly in the upper Midwest, although apparently disjunct populations have been reported in Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina (Schweitzer et al., 2011). Few factors other than general habitat loss and fragmentation have been implicated in the decline of this species. It may also be possible that this species has simply been undersampled in standard moth surveys, which rely heavily on lights or bait, both of which appear to be particularly ineffective in sampling for this species. More surveys need to be conducted employing direct searches of Phlox beds in the late spring.

 Photo Gallery for Schinia indiana - Phlox Moth

Photos: 1

Recorded by: T.B. Mitchell on 1933-07-16
Macon Co.
Comment: NCSU Specimen (from NCDA Collection). Originally determined by W.T.M. Forbes, but later examined by D.F. Schweitzer who thought it was not indiana but some other species that he did not know