Moths of North Carolina
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103 NC Records

Herpetogramma thestealis (Walker, 1859) - Zigzag Herpetogramma Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Pyraloidea Family: CrambidaeSubfamily: PyraustinaeTribe: SpilomeliniP3 Number: 801199.00 MONA Number: 5277.00 MONA Synonym: Herpetogramma abdominalis
Comments: Over 20 species of Herpetogramma have been described from North America that are based mostly on external morphology. The most recent treatment consolidates these into only nine species (Solis, 2010) and all nine occur in North Carolina. In particular, H. abdominalis is a previously recognized species that occurs in North Carolina, but is now treated as a junior synonym of H. thestealis.
Species Status: "In all these, females are much more difficult" (Scholtens, 2017).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Solis (2010)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The following description is based in part on that of Handfield and Handfield (2021). The head, thorax, and abdomen are brown, with the abdomen having a narrow white crossband on the posterior margin of each segment. The ground color of the wings is white and is overlain with a complex pattern of dark-brown marks that are clean-cut. The costa of the forewing has a brown shading that extends from the base to the apex. The terminal line is dark brown, and the fringe varies from whitish to light brown with darker spotting near the base on each vein. A white patch is located between the dark-brown, round, orbicular spot and the dark-brown rectangular reniform spot, while a similar patch occurs between the reniform spot and the postmedial line. A short, brown, longitudinal dash is also usually evident between the orbicular and reniform, but displaced inward towards the middle of the wing.

The antemedial line is weakly sinuate and strikes the costa just anterior to the orbicular spot. The postmedial line projects inward from the costa at around three-fourths the wing length where it meets an outwardly bulged section with three blunt teeth. From there it projects basally towards the orbicular spot for a short distance, then sharply angles away after approaching the reniform spot and runs obliquely inwards to the inner margin where it sometimes joins the antemedial line. A prominent, toothed, dark-brown subterminal line follows the postmedial line and separates a whitish zone between the postmedial and subterminal lines from a zone of heavy brown dusting between the subterminal line and the outer margin. The hindwing has reduced brown dusting in the subterminal region, lacks the antemedial line, and has a discal spot. The postmedial line and subterminal lines are similar to the ones on the forewing. The fringe is white with brown spotting at the base, and there is a well-defined dark brown terminal line.

Handfield and Handfield (2021) reported that a light form exists that is similar to the dark form described above, except that the lines, markings, and wings are paler, especially in the subterminal area, which is yellowish-brown and contrasts with the gray-brown terminal line and deeply-scalloped subterminal line.

Herpetogramma pertextalis is similar to H. thestealis in terms of overall patterning, but the latter is darker overall, with a sharp contrast between the dark brown subterminal shade on the forewing and the whitish area between it and the postmedial line. The subterminal shade also noticeably widens as it approaches the costa, with the tooth next to the costa often touching or nearly touching the postmedial line. Herpetogramma thestealis also has a whitish ground color, versus a more light yellowish-tan ground in H. pertextalis, and often has a violet or bluish iridescent sheen that is lacking in H. pertextalis. Size differences are also helpful, with H. thestealis being significantly larger than H. pertextalis (wingspan 30-35 mm versus 21-23 mm).
Wingspan: 30–35 mm for males; 29–31 mm for females (Handfield and Handfield, 2021); 28-35 mm (Forbes, 1923).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Herpetogramma thestealis is widely distributed across North America, including in California, the Pacific Northwest, the eastern U.S. and across most of southern Canada from British Columbia eastward to Prince Edward Island. In the eastern U.S., the range extends from Maine to southern Florida, and westward to Louisiana, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, eastern Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. This species occurs statewide in North Carolina, but is relatively uncommon in the Coastal Plain.
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 have been observed from April through October in different areas of the range. As of 2023, our records extend from early-May through early-October, with a seasonal peak in July through mid-August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Many of our records are from rich, mesic, hardwood forests, with coastal populations often associated with bottomland forests.
Larval Host Plants: This species is polyphagous and feeds mostly on woody species (Forbes, 1923; Covell, 1984; Heppner, 2007; Solis, 2008, 2010; Handfield and Handfield, 2011, 2021; Robinson et al., 2010; Beadle and Leckie, 2012). The reported hosts include American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa), American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), Coastal Sweet-pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), hazelnut (Corylus sp.), Mountain Silverbell (Halesia tetraptera), Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and American Basswood (Tilia americana). - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [S3-S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This polyphagous species is found statewide and appears to be reasonably secure.

 Photo Gallery for Herpetogramma thestealis - Zigzag Herpetogramma Moth

37 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: David George, Jeff Niznik on 2023-09-04
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2023-08-15
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2023-08-08
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Stephen Dunn, Jeff Niznik on 2023-07-31
Macon Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Stephen Dunn, Jeff Niznik on 2023-07-31
Swain 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: David George, Jeff Niznik on 2023-07-24
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George, Stephen Dunn, Jeff Niznik on 2023-07-13
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2023-07-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2023-05-09
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2022-09-05
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2022-08-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2022-07-17
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Richard Teper on 2022-06-16
Macon Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-22
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2021-07-19
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2021-07-09
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-24
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-10-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Brian Bockhahn on 2020-07-29
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-12
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-05-03
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-05-03
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Patrick and Megan Blythe on 2019-07-03
Macon Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2018-09-10
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2018-09-10
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2018-08-10
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Dowlan on 2018-08-06
Watauga Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2018-08-05
Buncombe Co.
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