Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFSaturniidae Members: 111 NC Records

Anisota virginiensis (Drury, 1773) - Pink-striped Oakworm Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SaturniidaeSubfamily: CaratocaminaeP3 Number: 890017.00 MONA Number: 7723.00 MONA Synonym: includes Anisota pellucida
Comments: One of four species in this genus that occurs in North Carolina (3 others occur north of Mexico -- Tuskes et al. 1996). Ferguson (1971) described a southern subspecies, pellucida, based primarily on its more intense shade of red. Tuskes et al. (1996), however, considered the differences between the forms to be clinal. Apart from some possible and minor differences in the length of the spines in the larvae (Burke and Peigler, 2009), there does not seem to be any convincing reason to treat pellucida separately, particularly as a full species (as proposed by Riotte and Peigler, 1980; see also Burke and Peigler, 2009). We follow Tuskes et al. in this regard.
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), Covell (1984), Tuskes et al. (1996), Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Adult females are fairly easy to recognize, differing from those of A. stigma and senatoria in a number of respects: no dark speckling on the wings; more pinkish coloration, particularly in the marginal area beyond the postmedian line; and generally having longer, narrower forewings. Some individuals may be fairly translucent (form virginiensis) while others may be opaque (form pellucida). Tuskes et al. (1996) note the existence of intermediate forms, including specimens from Halifax County, NC ( Ferguson, 1971, also shows an individual -- labeled subspecies virginiensis -- that looks intermediate between a more completely translucent individual labeled virginiensis and a more opaque specimen identified as pellucida; see Plate 5. 22-24). Males, like those of A. senatoria and peigleri, are believed to be bee mimics, possessing translucent forewings and flying only during the day (Tuskes et al., 1996). Males of virginiensis tend to have more transparent forewings than senatoria or peigleri and have more convex outer margins on both sets of wings (see illustrations in Covell, 1984).
Wingspan: 40 mm, males; 50 mm, females (Forbes, 1923)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae -- Pink-striped Oakworms -- are quite distinctive, possessing conspicuous longitudinal pink stripes on a black ground color, and covered with small white tubercles similarly to A. stigma but not senatoria or peigleri (Forbes, 1923; Ferguson, 1971; Tuskes et al, 1996; Wagner, 2005).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably occurs statewide except for the High Mountains, where oaks are scarce
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: Probably has just one flight in the Mountains but appears to have two in the Coastal Plain
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Habitats used in North Carolina appear to span the entire range of oak forests and woodlands, from Maritime Forests, to xeric Sandhills, to Coastal Plain and Piedmont Bottomland Hardwoods, to Montane Oak-Hickory Forests. Some of the records from lowland habitats, such as at Devil's Gut and Merchant's Millpond, however, may be due to the presence of sandridges, where the larvae may be feeding on upland oaks rather than floodplain species (Hall, pers. obs.; FLoyd Williams, pers. comm. to S. Hall). Direct observations of larvae present in floodplain habitats or feeding records on Laurel, Willow, or other bottomland oaks are needed to clarify their use of this type of habitat.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous on oaks. Ferguson (1971) mentions Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) for subspecies virginiensis and Blackjack oak (Q. marilandica -- figured in Abbot and Smith, 1797) for pellucida; Covell (1984) also adds Southern red oak (Q. falcata) and Water oak (Q. nigra) for pellucida. According to Tuskes et al. (1996), many oaks are accepted in captivity.
Observation Methods: Females come fairly well to blacklights and incandescent lights but since they do not feed, do not come to bait. Males are diurnal and do not show up at lights at night. Although believed to be bee mimics, they also do not feed and so are not found at flowers. Observations of males under natural conditions are very rare, but they can be obtained from captive-bred larvae or can be attracted to tethered or caged females. Larvae are gregarious but form smaller groups than in senatoria and peigleri (Tuskes et al., 1996).
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Oak-Hickory Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: Populations are locally vulnerable to the effects of weather, outbreaks of disease, parasites, and predators, and to the effects of pesticides. However, given the commonness of their host plants, wide habitat range -- including suburban areas -- and statewide distribution, this species can easily recover from localized losses. In the Northeast, however, this species has declined drastically, and is now very local (Wagner, 2012). Declines may be possibly due to parasitism by a Tachinid fly, Compsilura concinnata, that was widely introduced in the Northeast to control Gypsy Moths and other pest Lepidoptera. This fly represents a serious and pervasive threat for many species of moths and is suspected to be responsible for the marked declines in several Saturniids. While such impacts have not yet been documented in North Carolina, Compsilura has spread as far south as Virginia (Kellogg et al., 2003) and will probably continue to expand its range southward. The situation in North Carolina needs to be monitored.

 Photo Gallery for Anisota virginiensis - Pink-striped Oakworm Moth

61 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Erich Hofmann on 2021-09-12
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-10
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-07-22
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-07-11
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-07-09
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Cora Grace McLean on 2021-06-09
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-03
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2020-11-05
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2020-11-05
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Eli Parker on 2020-08-14
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Eli Parker on 2020-08-14
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-09
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2019-08-12
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Michael P. Morales on 2019-08-12
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: MN Lamb on 2019-08-01
Davidson Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-07-27
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Salman Abdulali on 2019-07-13
Pitt Co.
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Recorded by: Salman Abdulali on 2019-07-13
Pitt Co.
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Recorded by: Salman Abdulali on 2019-07-13
Pitt Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-07-11
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-06-11
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2019-05-26
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-26
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-05-26
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: R. Evans on 2019-04-29
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Matthew Guilin on 2018-07-31
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Matthew Guilin on 2018-07-31
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Matthew Guilin on 2018-07-31
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-07-03
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-09
Madison Co.
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