Moths of North Carolina
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Heterogenea Members:
28 NC Records

Heterogenea shurtleffi Packard, 1864 - Red-eyed Button Slug Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Zygaenoidea Family: LimacodidaeP3 Number: 660015.00 MONA Number: 4657.00
Comments: Monogenic in N.A.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Dyar (1898a); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Heterogenea shurtleffi is sexually dimorphic in both size and coloration. The forewing is cinnamon to brown in the larger females and darker chocolate brown in the males. The hindwing is also generally lighter brown in the females but blackish in the males. There are two narrow transverse bands on the forewing that are diffuse and dark brown. The inner band runs more-or-less obliquely across the wing from the inner margin to the costa near the middle of the wing. The outer band is much more strongly curved and runs from near the subtornal region of the inner margin roughly parallel to the termen before curving sharply towards the costa where is often joins the first band. A diffuse patch of similarly colored scales usually occupies the space between the two bands. In both sexes, there is usually a broad fringe on both wings, with a row of shorter, darker gray, but also somewhat elongated scales at the base of the fringe. These rows give the fringe a bicolored, or in some cases, tricolored appearance. Males are unlikely to be confused with other limacodids, and can be distinguished from similarly small and blackish species of Cryptothelia and Fulgoraecia exigua by their simple, rather than pectinate antennae. Females are similar in size, color, and pattern to Tortricidia flexuosa and Lithacodes fiskeanus, but have more rounded outer margins on the forewing, which are obliquely straight in the other species. Photographs showing the structural features described below should more reliably separate this species from the others.
Adult Structural Features: Among the Limacodidae, Heterogenea is distinguished morphologically by its possession of simple antennae and a single pair of spurs on the hind tibia in both sexes (Forbes, 1923). The only other limacodid that has a single pair of hind tibial spurs is Isa textula, which is much larger and has pectinate male antennae. The palps in both sexes of Heterogenea are weakly upturned and barely reach the middle of the front (Forbes, 1923). The palps in otherwise similar species of limacodids are more strongly upturned and extend beyond the middle of the front. A photograph of the side or front of the head should help separate these species, but a photograph of the underside that shows the hind tibiae is diagnostic.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae are polyphagous and feed on the leaves of deciduous hardwoods. Dyar (1898a) noted that the larval period is relatively brief, perhaps lasting only a month or so. Near the end of the larval period the bright pigmentation dissolves and the larvae become transparent, dirty whitish or waxy green. They then leave their feeding sites and spin their cocoons in the crevices of bark on the same tree.

The later instars are broadly oval and pale green, often with a purple to red dorsal spot surrounded by a diffuse yellow patch. The red dorsal spot, when present, is often infused with blue. Subdorsal stripes are best developed rearward, and the anterior end of the body has a yellow ridge that is edged below with red. Vague red mid-dorsal spots are frequently on the anterior segments. This species can be separated from Tortricidia testacea by the yellow ridge that is edged with red at the anterior end, and by more reduced dorsal markings (Wagner, 2005).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Heterogenea shurtleffi is found in eastern North America where the main range extends from North Carolina southward to central Florida, and westward to central Texas and central Oklahoma. Scattered populations have also been reported for central Illinois, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as Ontario and Quebec, Canada. This species appears to occur statewide in North Carolina, with the exception of the higher elevations in the Blue Ridge.
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: The adults primarily fly from April through September in different areas of the range, with populations in Florida being active as early as February. As of 2023, our records are from early May through late August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The largest sample of this species was recorded in the middle of a deeply flooded swamp forest, with no dry land around for hundreds of meters (the trap was located on the top of a beaver lodge). Many of the other sites where this species has been recorded in North Carolina are from riparian or wetland habitats. However, we also have records from mesic hardwood forests, dune habitats on a barrier island, and semi-wooded residential neighborhoods.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae are polyphagous and feed on deciduous hardwoods (Wagner, 2005; Heppner, 2007). The reported hosts include American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), chestnuts (Castanea), beeches (Fagus), oaks (Quercus) and presumably other woody plants. Based on the habitats where we have recorded this species in this state, American Hornbeam and bottomland or swamp oaks such as Overcup Oak (Q. lyrata) and Swamp Chestnut Oak (Q. michauxii) seem the most likely to be used. - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights but do not feed and consequently do not visit flowers or come to bait.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Wet Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S3S4
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species appears to be uncommon in North Carolina. More information is needed on its distribution, host plants and habitat preferences before its conservation status can be accurately assessed.

 Photo Gallery for Heterogenea shurtleffi - Red-eyed Button Slug Moth

Photos: 17

Recorded by: David George, Rich Teper on 2024-05-13
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Stephen Dunn, Jeff Niznik on 2023-08-18
Caswell Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka on 2023-08-06
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Stephen Dunn, Jeff Niznik, Rich Teper, Becky Watkins on 2023-07-30
Swain Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Stephen Dunn, Jeff Niznik, Rich Teper, Becky Watkins on 2023-07-29
Swain Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-07-25
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka and Jim Petranka on 2023-05-19
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-07-30
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka on 2022-05-18
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-07-18
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-07-18
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2019-06-30
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-07-01
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-07-01
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2013-07-26
Camden Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2013-07-14
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Parker Backstrom on 2011-05-23
Chatham Co.
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