Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFLimacodidae Members: 17 NC Records

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

Superfamily: Zygaenoidea Family: LimacodidaeP3 Number: 660015.00 MONA Number: 4657.00
Comments: Monogenic in N.A.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Sexually dimorphic in both size and coloration: the forewing is cinnamon to brown in the larger females and darker chocolate brown in males; the hindwing is also generally lighter brown in the females but blackish in the males. The transverse lines on the forewing are diffuse and dark brown, with the inner band running more-or-less obliquely across the wing and with the outer band much more strongly curved. A diffuse patch of similarly colored scales usually occupies the space in between the two lines. 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 single pair of spurs on its hind tibiae in both sexes (Forbes, 1923); the only other Limacodid that possesses only 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, showing 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 caterpillar is broadly oval and pale green, often with purple to red dorsal spot surrounded by diffuse yellow patch. A red dorsal spot, when present, is often infused with blue. Subdorsal stripes are best developed rearward. Anterior end with yellow ridge that is edged below with red. Frequently with vague red middorsal spots over anterior segments. The rear projects to form stubby tail. Separated from similar Tortricidea testacea by presence of the yellow yoke (ridge) at anterior end and 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: Probably occurs statewide
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: Most of our records come from mid- to late summer
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 yard (the trap was located on top of a beaver lodge). Almost all other sites where this species has been recorded in North Carolina are riparian. The one exception comes from a ridge where a large string of upland swamp forests were present.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, feeding on Beech, Chestnut, Ironwood, oaks and presumably other woody plants (Wagner, 2005). Based on the habitats where we have recorded this species in this state, Ironwood and bottomland or swamp oaks seem the most likely to be used.
Observation Methods: Attracted to lights but adults do not feed and consequently do not visit flowers or come to bait.
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 has been rarely collected in North Carolina and more needs to be learned about 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: 8

Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-07-18
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-07-18
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2019-06-30
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-07-01
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-07-01
Madison Co.
Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2013-07-26
Camden Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2013-07-14
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Parker Backstrom on 2011-05-23
Chatham Co.