Moths of North Carolina
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21 NC Records

Scopula cacuminaria (Morrison, 1874) - Frosted Tan Wave Moth

Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: SterrhinaeTribe: ScopuliniP3 Number: 910565.00 MONA Number: 7157.00
Comments: One of 26 species in this genus that occur in North America north of Mexico (Pohl et al., 2016), seven of which have been recorded in North Carolina
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Covell (1970)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1948; not detailed)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized Wave, distinguished from other members of this genus by its pointed hindwings, cream ground color, and heavy brown spotting in the subterminal area (Covell, 1970). Discal dots on both sets of wings are dark brown and a series of dorsal dark spots runs from thorax down the abdomen. Both cacuminaria and aemulata have a postmedian consisting of a series of dots, but aemulata has a tan ground color and has rounded hindwings and lacks the spots in the subterminal area of the forewing. Some forms of S. limboundata have heavy shading or spots in the subterminal area and have somewhat angled hindwings, but they have a continuous postmedian line and the subterminal shading is usually diffuse. Scopula purata can have separate dark spots in the subterminal area but has a pure white ground color and has rounded hindwings.
Forewing Length: 8.3 - 10.7 mm, males; 9.2 - 11.5, females (Covell, 1970)
Adult Structural Features: Male and female reproductive structures are distinctive and are described and illustrated by Covell (1970)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Forbes (1948) describes the larvae as slender and green, but apparently no other descriptions have been made. Forbes describes the eggs as twice as high as wide and possessing eight high, vertical flanges. The color is green initially but turning scarlet; the flanges are contrasting white.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Most of our records come from the Outer Coastal Plain, with one record from along the New River in the Low Mountains
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: We have too few records to detect a definite pattern in adult flights. Covell's (1970) data suggested that there were two distinct flights, one in late spring and another in late summer, but we have records from the fall as well.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: All of our records come from wet habitats, particularly shorelines of ponds and rivers. Although several records come from estuarine areas, the habitats at these sites are mainly freshwater. A few come from small stream swamps but the majority are from more open shorelines, where either shoreline herbaceous vegetation or marsh plants could be the host plants for this species. We do not have any records, however, from beaver sedge meadows, which we have extensively surveyed in the Fall-line Sandhills and eastern Piedmont, nor do we have any records from the rich, open, herb-dominated seepage slopes, which have also been a target of our surveys.
Larval Host Plants: Forbes (1948) reared larvae on lettuce and cites Franclemont as saying they are general feeders. No observations from the wild are known, however, and the host plants still need to be confirmed; herbaceous species seem likely.
Observation Methods: Appears to come fairly well to 15 watt blacklights; we have no records from bait.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W3
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 S2S3->[S3S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Covell (1970) describes this species as local and rather scarce, which agrees with our findings. It is possibly a habitat specialist, but we need more information on its host plants to determine which habitats in particular it is associated with. More information is also needed on its distribution and abundance across the state before an accurate assessment can be made of its conservation needs.

 Photo Gallery for Scopula cacuminaria - Frosted Tan Wave Moth

Photos: 3

Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2018-04-05
Pender Co.
Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2013-08-17
Camden Co.
Recorded by: FKW, SBW on 2010-06-13
Camden Co.