Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGeometridae Members:
Nemoria Members:
149 NC Records

Nemoria elfa Ferguson, 1969 - Cypress Emerald

Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: GeometrinaeTribe: NemoriiniP3 Number: 910609.00 MONA Number: 7029.00
Comments: One of 35 species in this genus that occur in North America (Ferguson, 1985), nine of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Ferguson (1969) included elfa within the Extramaria Species Group (Group IV), which in North Carolina also includes tuscarora and outina.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Ferguson (1985)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Ferguson (1985); Wagner (2005; photograph but no description)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A small Emerald, with both a reddish-brown cool season form and a green warm season form. The abdomen is unspotted and concolorous with the wing color. The tranverse lines are thin, white, and slightly waved to crenulate. Other markings are variable: the terminal line may be present or absent; fringes may be white or pink; the front and interantennal fillet may also be marked with red or can be green (Ferguson, 1985). Nemoria outina is similar in size to elfa, but is darker green, has fine white striations on its wings, and has a yellowish fringe. A continuous red terminal line is also present in outina, which is absent or broken in elfa, and the front is always red, not green, as is often true for elfa (Ferguson, 1985).
Wingspan: 16-17 mm (measured from Ferguson, 1985)
Forewing Length: 9-10 mm in males; 9-12 mm in females (Ferguson, 1985)
Adult Structural Features: The antennae of the males are pectinate, with the longest branches equal to 3-4 times the width of the shaft (Ferguson, 1985). Male genitalia -- illustrated by Ferguson (1985)-- are similar to other members of the Extramaria Group, but differ slightly in the shape of the costal process.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larva illustrated by Wagner (2005) is primarily green, but most Nemoria larvae are largely brown (Ferguson, 1985; color not described for elfa). Unlike most other Nemoria larvae, the integument is smooth rather than pilose or granulated. Ferguson (1985) noted that they are similar to N. saturiba, which also have a smooth integument, but have more bilobate heads and more prominent processes on the prothorax -- two large, conical points along with four smaller ones.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Restricted to the Coastal Plain, including the Fall-line Sandhills. A record from the Mountains needs to be verified but may represent N. tuscarora, not elfa.
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: Adults fly essentially continuously from early March to early November
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records all come from Cypress-containing habitats, including riverine, non-riverine, and tidal swamp forests dominated by Bald Cypress, and cypress savannas, Carolina Bays, and other shallow impoundments where where Pond Cypress is present but not Bald Cypress.
Larval Host Plants: Probably stenophagous, feeding on Cypress (Taxodium distichum and T. ascendens) (Wagner, 2005). - View
Observation Methods: Comes well to blacklights
See also Habitat Account for Cypress Swamps and Savannas
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
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: This species is a habitat specialist, but cypress-containing habitats are still fairly widepsread in the state and this species currently seems fairly secure. However, both the vast non-riverine swamps on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula and most examples of Tidal Cypress Gum Forests are highly threatened by sea level rise and salt-water intrusion. Many Carolina Bays have been converted to agriculture or silviculture and even deeply-flooded riverine stands of Bald Cypress are subject to logging. Due to these threats, we recommend that populations of this species and other characteristic of cypress habitats be monitored for changes in their status.

 Photo Gallery for Nemoria elfa - Cypress Emerald

Photos: 11

Recorded by: David George, Jeff Niznik, Rich Teper on 2024-04-16
New Hanover Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2024-03-17
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Jeff Niznik on 2024-03-07
Orange Co.
Recorded by: David George, Jeff Niznik, Rich Teper on 2023-05-21
New Hanover Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2023-03-27
Wake Co.
Recorded by: John Petranka on 2022-03-15
Orange Co.
Comment: 3-4 mature cypresses occur about 100 meters behind our property along the banks of a still section of New Hope Creek that’s been backed up by a low dam
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-05-02
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Thomas C Reed on 2019-09-07
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2018-06-14
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2016-06-24
Washington Co.
Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2013-09-08
Washington Co.