Moths of North Carolina
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92 NC Records

Cleora projecta (Walker, 1860) - Projecta Gray Moth

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Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: EnnominaeTribe: BoarmiiniP3 Number: 911014.00 MONA Number: 6595.00
Comments: This genus occurs over much of the world (Rindge, 1972). There are two species in North America and both occur in North Carolina
Species Status: Publicly available barcode analysis (BOLD:AAD7495 and BOLD:AAF4550) indicate that North Carolina specimens of projecta are quite distinct from those of sublunaria but that at least some populations elsewhere may be less easily distinguished
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948, as C. manitoba); Rindge (1972)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2001)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Moderately long-winged and similar in pattern and coloration to other Geometrids loosely termed the Grays. Usually easy to distinguish by its strong, black, and double-lined antemedian and by a white basal ring or bar on the abdomen followed by black patch. In Anavitrinella and a few of the Iridopsis that have contrasting rings at the base of the abdomen, the black bar is basal to the pale ring and none have a doubled antemedian line. While both species in the genus look quite similar, the the color of the frons can be used to distinguish them (see key in Rindge, 1972). in projecta, the scales are bicolored with brown at the base and white at the tip; this produces a generally gray or brown appearance. The frons is divided by a crossband of darker color but this is usually narrow or obscured in projecta (note that there is also a dark inter-antennnal bar located more dorsally). In sublunaria, the scales on the frons are usually pure white (or pale buff). A much more conspicuous black band crosses the frons and the white scales on the lower hallf are often longer than in projecta and form an irregular fringe. While these characters are diagnostic when there is a good view of the frons, they often are difficult to make out in a dorsal view of the specimen. In some, but not all, cases, grayish bicolored scales are found on the vertex and occiput of the head and on the pale band at the base of the abdomen. In sublunaria, these scales are often pure white, as they are on the frons (S. Hall, pers. obs). In general, the wings are more shaded with gray in projecta and more contrastingly mottled in sublunaria.
Forewing Length: 15-18 mm, males; 14-17 mm, females (Rindge, 1972)
Adult Structural Features: We include a picture of the antennal pectinations which are termed bipectinate with two unequal sized branches from each antennal segment along the basal 2/3ds of the shaft. This will distinguish the genus from other geometrids. In the male genitalia the shape of the projections along the edge of the valves and the shape of the cornuti in the vesicas will distinguish the species. In the females the size of the signum (larger in C. projecta) distinguishes the species. Additionally, Rindge (1972) noted that the eyes of projecta are narrower than those of sublunaria and that the antennae of male projecta have longer pectinations.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae have a number of color forms but all have characteristic black spots flanked with white along the midline. At present we do not know how to separate the larvae of the two species of Cleora.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Most of our records come from the southern half of the Coastal Plain, with just a few from farther north. Not reported from other parts of the state.
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: Univoltine, with a spring flight period
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: All of our records for this species come from areas where peatland shrubs are present or located nearby. These come from peatland habitats themselves, including Pocosins, Pond Pine Woodlands, and stands of Peatland White Cedars; the specimens from Washington County come from a site that was part of a vast peatland with not other terrestrial habitats located anywhere near by. However, we also have records from Longleaf Pine flatwoods and savannas, which usually adjoin peatlands as well as supporting some of the peatland shrubs themselves. The same is true for Small Stream Swamps and Sandhill Streamhead Swamps, which often support dense thickets of peatland shrubs.
Larval Host Plants: Rindge (1972) lists Myrica gale as the host plant but Wagner et al. (2001) also include Cherry and Oak, which they list for C. sublunaria as well. While Black Cherry occurs marginally in habitats where we have recorded projecta, the range of none of these host plants seems to closely correspond to that of projecta and may represent confusion with the larvae of sublunaria. Some species of peatland shrub seems much more likely to be the host plant. Myrica gale occurs in acidic bogs but is restricted to the Mountains in North Carolina, where it may, in fact, be extirpated. In the Coastal Plain, where our records projecta are concentrated, several species of Morella (= Myrica -- see Weakley, 2022) occur in peatland and flatwoods habitats and may be possibilities. - View
Observation Methods: Adults readily come to lights but not to bait.
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Wet Acidic Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 S3
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 far more of a habitat specialist than Cleora sublunaria, being highly restricted to peatlands and other areas where peatland shrubs occur. Currently such habitats are plentiful in the Coastal Plain, although large areas have been lost due to drainage and conversion to agriculture and silviculture. Some of the largest peatdome pocosins, moreover, are vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise. Although this species appears to be secure for at least the moment, its long term prognosis is less certain.

 Photo Gallery for Cleora projecta - Projecta Gray Moth

Photos: 7

Recorded by: R. Newman on 2024-04-10
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Mark Basinger on 2022-03-19
Brunswick Co.
Recorded by: Mark Basinger on 2022-03-19
Brunswick Co.
Recorded by: SPH on 1998-04-20
Bladen Co.
Comment: Male
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 1995-04-27
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 1995-04-27
Pender Co.
Recorded by: SPH on 1995-04-04
Onslow Co.