Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGeometridae Members: 50 NC Records

Phigalia titea (Cramer, [1780]) - Half-wing Moth

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Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: EnnominaeTribe: BistoniniP3 Number: 911079.00 MONA Number: 6658.00
Comments: One of four members of this genus that occur in North America, three of which are found in North Carolina
Species Status: Genetic bar-coding indicates that this species is homogeneous throughout its range, with no cryptic siblings.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948); Rindge (1975)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1948); Wagner et al., 2001; Wagner, 2005                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Phigalia are among the very few geometrids that fly during mid-winter to early spring. They can be distinguished from Alsophila and Paleacrita, which also fly during this period and are similarly pale gray, by their blackish antemedian, median, and postmedian lines. In Phigalia titea, the ground color is whiter than in the other two Phigalia, particularly in the median area, and more strongly contrasts with the clean-cut black lines (Forbes, 1948; Rindge, 1975); there is also, however, a melanic form that is more uniformly dark across the entire wing. The postmedian line is less scalloped or toothed than the other two species, although there may be dashes or thickenings at the veins that produce at least a slight jaggedness in an otherwise smoothly sinuous line. As in P. denticularia, the postmedian makes a bend towards the median line in the lower part of the wing but diverges from it at the inner margin. Females of all three species of Phigalia have stubby, non-functional wings (which are virtually absent in female Alsophila and Paleacrita). Females are grayish brown -- bronwer than in the males -- and with pale gray wings that often have a single dark cross bar (Rindge, 1975).
Forewing Length: 15 to 22 mm, males; 3 to 4 mm, females (Rindge, 1975)
Adult Structural Features: Both female and male titea possess smaller abdominal spines than are found in the other two species (Forbes, 1948); Rindge (1975) states that the abdomen is covered with flattened, deeply bifurcate scales rather than spines. The male aedeagus has a short but strong, coiled spine, unlike the straight or curved spines found in the other two species.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are a pale blue-gray with fine black longitudinal lines; a yellow subdorsal line is also present and yellow patches are located on the spiracles (Forbes, 1948; Wagner et al., 2001; Wagner, 2005). Pupation occurs in the soil or litter (Wagner et al. 2001).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably occurs statewide, including both the Outer Banks and High Mountains. The lack of records over most of the state is probably due to its early flight period.
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: Single-brooded with adults flying only in the early spring. Emerges somewhat later than P. denticulata and strigataria but overlaps with them.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Most of our records come primarily from fairly dry habitats, including maritime forests and sandhills in the Coastal Plain, and dry ridges in the Mountains. However, we also have records from more mesic habitats, including lakeshores and peatlands; more sampling during the early part of the year will be needed to clarify its habitat associations.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous on woody trees and shrubs. Wagner et al. (2001) specifically list apple, basswood, birch, blueberry, cranberry, elm, hickory, maple, oak and poplar
Observation Methods: Adults have short, non-functional mouthparts (Forbes, 1948); consequently, they do not come to bait or show up at flowers. They appear to come fairly well to blacklights, with large numbers occasionally captured in a single trap.
See also Habitat Account for General Forests and Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: Given its wide range of larval host plants, broad habitat associations, and extensive occurrence across the state, this species appears to be secure.

 Photo Gallery for Phigalia titea - Half-wing Moth

Photos: 17

Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-03-14
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-03-14
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-03-13
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-03-14
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-01-12
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2019-03-11
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-03-11
Madison Co.
Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan on 2016-04-25
Carteret Co.
Comment: On Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). Identification is tentative pending the results of genetic barcoding. 24 mm.
Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan on 2016-04-21
Carteret Co.
Comment: On Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). Identification is tentative pending the results of genetic barcoding. 20 mm.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2015-03-16
McDowell Co.
Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2015-02-23
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-03-03
Dare Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2013-03-16
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2013-03-05
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2012-02-09
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Taylor Piephoff on 2010-02-23
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Scott Hartley, Chris Helms, Steve Hall on 2000-03-22
Moore Co.
Comment: WEWO - Collected