Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFSaturniidae Members: 35 NC Records

Citheronia sepulcralis Grote & Robinson, 1865 - Pine Devil Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SaturniidaeSubfamily: CaratocaminaeP3 Number: 890010.00 MONA Number: 7708.00
Comments: One of two species in this genus that occurs in North Carolina
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923), Ferguson (1971), Tuskes et al. (1996)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1923), Ferguson (1971), Tuskes et al. (1996), Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Adults of this species are smaller and much less conspicuously marked than those of the Regal Moth (C. regalis). The dark maroon gray of the forewings and reddish brown at the base of the hindwings should make them fairly easy to recognize. However, worn specimens could be confused with some of the Sphinx Moths, some of which are similar in size and coloration, but differing in the form of their antennae: males have half-pectinate antennae and females have short, slender antennae both unlike the thicker and longer antennae typical of Sphingids. Specimens in good shape and viewed in good light show a brownish red (rose) color along the veins and discal spot of the forewing. There is also usually a small spot of yellow or pink located at the very base of the forewing.
Wingspan: 75-100 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Caterpillars -- Pine Devils -- are similar in appearance to Hickory Horned Devils, the larvae of C. regalis. Both species have prominent pairs of spiky "horns" located on their thoracic segments and rows of smaller spines running the length of the abdomen. The horns and spines are typically yellow in sepulcralis and red or orange with black tips in regalis. Pine devils are usually a drab brown or beige color, in contrast with the more strongly patterned green or brown larvae of C. regalis.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Most of our records come from the Coastal Plain (except the Outer Banks) and eastern Piedmont with one also from the Low Mountains along the north shore of Fontana Lake.
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
Immature 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: Ferguson (1971), Tuskes et al. (1996) and Wagner (2005) state that this species has two or more flights south of Virginia, which seems to also fit our data.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The majority of our records -- including all of those where the habitat has been recorded -- come from wet-to-mesic habitats, including Pond Pine Woodlands (a type of peatland), Wet Pine Savannas and Flatwoods (sandy, fire-maintained habitats), and Bottomland Hardwoods in the Coastal Plain. Sites in the eastern Piedmont and Low Mountains where this species has been recorded could represent upland or bottomland habitats (they are not described), but there are no records from the extensive areas of upland Loblolly plantations, or stands of Shortleaf (P. echinata) and Virginia Pine (P. virginiana) that occur over the Piedmont.
Larval Host Plants: This species is stenophagous, feeding on a very narrow range of host plants, apparently only pines. Forbes (1923) lists White pine (Pinus strobus) and Pitch pine (P. rigida) and Kimball (1965) lists Caribbean pine (P. caribaea) as used in Florida. Pond pine (Pinus serotina), a close relative of Pitch pine, occurs at most of our collecting sites in the Coastal Plain, and is the only pine growing in the peatland habitats where we have collected sepulcralis. Pond pines may also be the preferred species in the wet pine flatwoods and savanna sites, although Longleaf pine (P. palustris) is also present in those habitats. In the floodplain of the Lower Roanoke, where sepulcralis was collected at the Devil's Gut TNC Preserve, only Loblolly pine (P. taeda) is present, and this is also the pine that is most abundant in the eastern Piedmont sites where this moth has been recorded.
Observation Methods: Sepulcralis comes to both 15 watt UV and incandescent lights, but almost invariably as single individuals. Schweitzer et al. (2011) state that this species comes much more strongly to mercury-vapor lights and that use of black-light traps alone may seriously underestimate population densities. They also suggest that use of tethered females to attract males offers a much more efficient way to determine population levels. Caterpillars spend most of their time up in pines where they are difficult to sample. However, they become conspicuous when they descend the trees to look for a place to pupate. Pupation occurs underground, precluding the use of cocoon surveys.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Pine Forests and Woodlands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4]
State Protection: Not legally protected, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This species appears to be somewhat uncommon but occurs in a wide range of pine-containing habitats and probably uses a fairly wide range of host plants. While habitat loss does not appear to be a significant threat, parasitism by Compsilura concinnata, a Tachinid fly introduced to control Gypsy Moth populations, may have been responsible for eliminating C. sepulcralis from much of the Northeast (Schweitzer et. al., 2011). Compsilura is now well-established in central Virginia (Kellogg et al., 2003), and it is probably only a matter of time before it becomes a major threat to moths in North Carolina. This situation needs to be closely monitored.

 Photo Gallery for Citheronia sepulcralis - Pine Devil Moth

Photos: 22

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-09
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-15
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: C. Helms. J. Davis on 2020-04-27
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-08-07
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Ballard on 2018-08-14
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Ballard on 2018-08-12
Alamance Co.
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Recorded by: Susannah Goldston on 2018-08-08
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Ballard on 2018-08-05
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Ballard on 2018-08-05
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Ballard on 2018-06-04
Caswell Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales, Amber Williams on 2017-05-01
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales, Amber Williams on 2017-05-01
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales, Amber Williams on 2017-05-01
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2016-08-15
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2016-08-04
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, S. Hall on 2015-07-22
Stanly Co.
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Recorded by: NEW on 2014-09-16
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2010-06-16
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2010-06-15
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Beane on 2009-05-16
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: FKW, Sam Wells on 2006-08-04
Gates Co.
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Recorded by: B. Anderson on 2001-07-20
Wake Co.
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