Moths of North Carolina
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Lambdina Members:
55 NC Records

Lambdina fiscellaria (Guenée, [1858]) - Hemlock Looper

Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: EnnominaeTribe: OurapteryginiP3 Number: 911327.00 MONA Number: 6888.00
Comments: One of nine members of this genus that occur in North America, four of which have been recorded in North Carolina.
Species Status: Sperling et al. (1999) found no significant differences between the subspecies of Lambdina fiscellaria but found a 2% difference in the mitochondrial DNA between fiscellaria and both pellucidaria and fervidaria, which had virtually identical DNA. Life history differences also clearly separate fiscellaria from other species of Lambdina.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1948); Wagner et al. (2001); Maier et al. (2013)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized Geometrid. Variable in color, with both yellowish and gray forms similar to L. fervidaria and pellucidaria, with similar dusting with darker gray. Posseses a more angular outer margin than other species of Lambdina, with points at M3 on the fore- and hindwings . The lines are dark brown and clean-cut, usually edged with yellow on the sides away from the median area (Forbes, 1948). The postmedian is characteristically sharply bent at M3. Could be confused with Besma endropiaria, which is similar in color and in its angulate wings. The postmedian line in that species, is more smoothly curved in endropiaria and a submedian line is usually present, which is absent in species of Lambdina.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The egg is the overwintering stage in this species, whereas it is the pupa in the other species of Lambdina (Forbes, 1948; Wagner, 2005). Larvae are variable in color and pattern, marked white, gray and black (see Wagner et al., 2001, and Maier et al., 2013 for details). They are often found together with larvae of L. fervidaria athasaria, which also prefers Hemlocks and other conifers; Maier et al. (2013) note that the larvae of fiscellaria are always larger on any given date than those of athasaria. Pupation occurs both up on the host plants in crevices or under lichens, or on the ground or in logs and stumps (Herbert and Brodeur, 2013).
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Almost all of our records come from the Mountains, but with one anomalous record from the eastern Piedmont that suggests that it could be much more widespread.
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: Appears to be bivoltine in the Mountains, with the second brood extending later into the fall than is true for the other species of Lambdina. The one Piedmont record we have is from October, well after the last dates for L. fervidaria in that region.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: All but one of our records come from mesic forests in the Mountains, including riparian and cove forests at lower elevations and northern hardwoods and spruce-fir forests at high elevations. Our one record from the Uwharrie Mountains area in the eastern Piedmont is aberrant enough but even more anomalous in coming from a stand of dry hardwood forest, although one that contains an extensive seepage slope. No Hemlocks are known from that area and the pines at that site are a mixture of Coastal Plain and Piedmont species, including Pond, Longleaf, Shortleaf, and Loblolly.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, feeding primarily on Fir, Hemlock, Spruce, Pine and other conifers but also on hardwood trees and shrubs, at least during outbreaks (Wagner et al., 2001; Maier et al., 2011).
Observation Methods: Appears to come well to 15 watt UV lights but not recorded at flowers or bait.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Cool Mesic Conifer Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4?]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is regarded as a pest of Hemlock forests in Canada and is subject to suppression efforts using Bacillus thurengiensis and other biological controls (Hebert and Brodeur, 2013). We have only a moderate number of records for this species in North Carolina, however, almost all from the Mountains; the North Carolina Forest Service does not list this species as a forest pest in this state. Given that it has several alternative larval hosts, it is uncertain how threatened fiscellaria might be due to decimation of two of its most important host species, Fraser Fir by the Balsam Wooly Adelgid and of Hemlock by the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

 Photo Gallery for Lambdina fiscellaria - Hemlock Looper

Photos: 16

Recorded by: John Petranka and Chuck Smith on 2022-10-13
Burke Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2022-09-11
Graham Co.
Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-08-15
Avery Co.
Recorded by: John Petranka on 2022-08-09
Watauga Co.
Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-09-29
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-09-28
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-09-20
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-10-22
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2019-10-05
Graham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-10-03
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2019-09-17
Graham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-31
Yancey Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-20
Madison Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2015-09-01
Yancey Co.
Recorded by: Doug Blatny / Jackie Nelson on 2013-10-04
Ashe Co.
Recorded by: SPH on 2010-10-07
Montgomery Co.