Moths of North Carolina
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Ceratonyx Members:
8 NC Records

Ceratonyx satanaria Guenée, [1858] - No Common Name

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Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: EnnominaeTribe: NacophoriniP3 Number: 911208.00 MONA Number: 6780.00
Comments: In his revision of the genus Ceratonyx, Rindge (1975) included 12 species from North, Central and South America. Currently (Scoble, 1999) includes only 4 species from Mexico and North America. Only satanaria occurs in North Carolina.
Species Status: The type for this species is based on an unpublished drawing by John Abbot (Rindge, 1975). Specimens from Georgia and North Carolina have been barcoded and with one exception (Georgia) are homogeneous. That exception may result from an incomplete sequence but additional specimens should be studied.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Rindge (1975)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Sourakov and Stubina (2012)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized, grayish-brown Geometrid, with a darker median area and pale shading along the costa in the antemedian and postmedian areas. Hindwings are also brown. Unlikely to be confused in our area with any other species, particularly during its late winter flight period.
Forewing Length: 16-19 mm, males; 20-22 mm, females (Rindge, 1975)
Adult Structural Features: Antennae are bipectinate in males and the weakly serrate in females. The genitalia of the male show the characteristic processes of the anellus that place the genus in the Nacophorini. We have not found a female to dissect but Rindge (1975) provides a figure.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are gray and possess a pair of highly distinctive horns that project from the pronotum directly behind the head, hence the name "satanaria". Sourakov and Stubina (2012) speculate that these structures have a sensory function, possibly used to detect approaching predatory wasps.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This species appears to be endemic to the Southeast, with its range extending from east Texas east along the Gulf Coast to Florida and up the Atlantic Coast to North Carolina (Rindge, 1975; Moth Photographers Group, accessed 2022). Rindge described it as confined to the Coastal Plain and most of our records are consistent with that statement. However, MPG shows a number of records from the southern end of the Appalachians and we have one record from Macon County that is consistent with that finding.
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: It is on the wing primarily in February and March but may occur earlier or later depending upon when the weather is mild.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our collections all come from forested areas, but consisting of a mixture of bottomland hardwoods and wet pine flatwoods. Our one record from the mountains comes from a ridge.
Larval Host Plants: The only known host plant is Sweet Gum, which was reported by Guenee in his description of the species, apparently based on a drawing by Abbot (see Rindge, 1975). No modern confirmation of this host plant appears to be available. - View
Observation Methods: Males come readily to light traps, females rarely; Brou (2012) found a female for every 200 males and we have yet to see a female in North Carolina. It seems unlikely the species will respond to bait.
See also Habitat Account for Sweetgum Groves and Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W3
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 [S3S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Rindge (1975) regarded Ceratonyx as one of the rarer moths found in the Southeast. However, this species appears to moving into our area from further south, a trend that may increase with global climate change. When Rindge (1975) revised the genus, he found specimens from southern South Carolina across the Gulf Coast to Texas. In spite of frequent collecting in southeastern North Carolina from 1970 to date, the first specimen turned up in Brunswick County in 1995. By 2000 it had reached Craven County and was taken there infrequently. Today there are records from Oklahoma and Kentucky on Moth Photography Group's website and the species is now routinely collected in Carteret, Jones and Craven Counties.

 Photo Gallery for Ceratonyx satanaria - No common name

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-02-11
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-02-10
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-02-10
Onslow Co.