Moths of North Carolina
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89 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 but in North America there are only two species and both occur in North Carolina
Species Status: Barcodes indicate a single species throughout its range.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948; as C. manitoba)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 frons is usually white in males and many female C. sublunaria and gray in C. projecta.
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.
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) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Has a single 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 include peatland habitats themselves, including Pocosins, Pond Pine Woodlands, and stands of Peatland White Cedars. The also include Longleaf Pine flatwoods and savannas -- which usually adjoin peatlands as well as supporting some of the peatland shrubs themselves -- and also Small Stream Swamps and Sandhill Streamhead Swamps, where the same conditions exist.
Larval Host Plants: Wagner et al. (2001) list Cherry, Oak, and Gale, which they also list for C. sublunaria. While Black Cherry occurs marginally in habitats where we have recorded projecta, none of these host plants seems likely for 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, one of the stated host plants for this species, occurs in acidic bogs but is restricted to the Mountains in North Carolina (where it may be extirpated). In the Coastal Plain, several species of Morella (= Myrica -- see Weakley, 2015) occur in peatland and flatwoods habitats and may be possibilities.
Observation Methods: Adults readily come to lights but not to baits.
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.