Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGeometridae Members: 62 NC Records

Heterophleps refusaria (Walker, 1861) - Three-patched Bigwing Moth

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Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: LarentiinaeTribe: LobophoriniP3 Number: 910486.00 MONA Number: 7645.00
Comments: A large genus with most members from India and China. Three species occur in the USA and two in North Carolina. Our species appear to be congeneric with some of the species from China while other species from China may be misplaced.
Species Status: Specimens from North Carolina are similar to those from elsewhere in its range and no significant heterogeneity has been observed.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2001)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Lager and grayer than H. triguttaria but similar in possessing disproportionately large forewings. Adults can be mistaken for some species of Speranza with whom they fly, but the difference in size between the fore and hindwings is diagnostic.
Adult Structural Features: Genitalia are similar to other Laurentine Geometrids but are diagnostic for our species.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are variegated in brown, with a corrugated or wrinkled appearance (see Wagner et al., for details).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Restricted to the Mountains in North Carolina.
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 have a single adult flight, from May to July.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records come primarily from Cove Forests and Northern Hardwoods in the Mountains, including from high elevations.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae have been reared on Clearweed (Pilea) and nettles (Wagner et al 2001) but to our knowledge caterpillars have not been found on plants in the wild. The caterpillars hurl their frass pellets to avoid detection by parasitic wasps and flies.
Observation Methods: Adults come readily to light but not to bait.
See also Habitat Account for General Montane Mesic Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 [S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Generally uncommon and somewhat specialized in terms of both host plants and habitats. High elevation mesic forests are threatened to some extent by global climate change, but for the moment, this species still has a wide range within the Mountains of North Carolina

 Photo Gallery for Heterophleps refusaria - Three-patched Bigwing Moth

Photos: 11

Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-07-05
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2021-05-13
Graham Co.
Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-04
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-09-07
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-06-26
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-06-09
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-20
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-06-24
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2018-08-06
Yancey Co.
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger, P. Scharf on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2013-06-05
Transylvania Co.