Moths of North Carolina
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23 NC Records

Herpetogramma theseusalis (Walker, 1859) - Herpetogramma Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Pyraloidea Family: CrambidaeSubfamily: PyraustinaeTribe: SpilomeliniP3 Number: 801200.00 MONA Number: 5279.00
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.
Species Status: The rolled leaf shelters that this species uses for feeding and protection from predators and parasitoids are important microhabitats for a variety of invertebrates. Jennings et al. (2017), for example, found 36 species of spiders that used shelters in Maine.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923, as Phylctaenia theseusalis); Solis (2010)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The ground color of the forewing is yellowish-brown and lacks a white patch between the orbicular and reniform spots. There is also no contrasting dark marginal shade as seen in some Herpetogramma species (Solis, 2010). The postmedian line is straight between M2 and the costa, while the orbicular and reniform spots -- as well as the antemedian, postmedian, and terminal lines -- are all dark and contrasting.
Wingspan: 25 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Forewing Length: >10 mm (Solis, 2010)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Much like H. sphingealis, the larvae of this species produce globular shelters on ferns ('fern balls') that are used for feeding and as a defense against parasitoids and predators. LoPresti and Morse (2013) reported that overwintering larvae at a study site in Maine emerge from the leaf litter in the spring, then ascend newly unfurled fern fronds and construct roughly spherical shelters. The shelters are about 2–3 cm in diameter and are made at night by rolling the apical end of a frond downward, notching the rachis, and binding pinnae (leaflets) to the outside of the structure with silk. The larvae feed from the inside of the shelters, and a given individual may construct two or more additional shelters during the larval period as they grow. The larvae pupate within the shelter, with the pupal stage lasting around two weeks.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Herpetogramma theseusalis is broadly distributed across eastern North America. It occurs in southeastern Canada from Ontario eastward to Nova Scotia and vicinity. From there the range encompasses much of the eastern US east of the Mississippi River to as far south as southern Florida. Isolated populations have been found farther west in Minnesota, southern Louisiana, and eastern Texas. This species occurs statewide in North Carolina, with most records from the Coastal Plain and Piedmont.
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: The adults of this wide-ranging species have been found from April through November, with peak activity occurring in July. As of 2022, we have records from early June through October, with Coastal Plain adults on the wing a few weeks earlier than those in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The larva use several species of ferns that are generally associated with moist grounds.
Larval Host Plants: Several fern species are documented hosts (Forbes, 1923; LoPresti and Morse, 2013; Solis, 2010; BugGuide). Potential hosts in North Carolina include the Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis), Marsh Fern (Thelypteris palustris), Royal Fern (Osmunda spectabilis), Interrupted Fern (Claytosmunda claytoniana), and Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum). As of 2022, our very limited records are all for Cinnamon Fern.
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights and can be reared from fern balls.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR S3S5
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 relatively uncommon throughout the state, perhaps because of its reliance on Cinnamon Fern and other fern hosts.

 Photo Gallery for Herpetogramma theseusalis - Herpetogramma Moth

Photos: 13

Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-07-26
Greene Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2021-10-22
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-09-19
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2021-08-06
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2021-08-06
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-23
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-07-31
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-06-19
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-05-10
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-05-10
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2016-08-03
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2015-10-12
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2013-06-04
Bladen Co.
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