Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 32 NC Records

Utetheisa ornatrix (Linnaeus, 1758) - Ornate Bella Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930348.00 MONA Number: 8105.00 MONA Synonym: Utetheisa bella
Comments: Although two species, ornatrix and bella, have been recognized in the past based on differences in coloration (e.g., Hodges et al., 1983; Covell, 1984; Schmidt and Opler, 2008), Forbes (1960) treated them as races, finding no differences in the genitalia and extensive intergradation between populations. This opinion was upheld by Lafontaine and Schmidt (2010), citing evidence from DNA bar-coding in addition to the lack of genitalic differences.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1960)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1960); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Unmistakeable, with conspicuous aposematic coloration: forewings are bright orange, pink, or yellow and crossed by several transverse white bands spotted with black; hindwings are pink with a black outer margin.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are yellowish with some white and with broad black transverse bands (Forbes, 1960; Wagner; 2005).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Recorded in North Carolina primarily in the southern half of the Coastal Plain.
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 apparently fly during most of the growing season in the Coastal Plain
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: In the Coastal Plain, records all come from open, herbaceous habitats, including barrier island dunes and Longleaf Pine savannas, flatwoods, and sandhills. Records from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park come from high ridges, with one at least containing old field habitat (Crotalaria, however, has not been recorded in the park nor in Swain or Haywood Counties -- DLIA, 2014; NCU Flora of the Southeastern United States, 2014).
Larval Host Plants: Oliophagous, feeding primarily on Legumes with a preference for Rattlebox (Crotalaria spp.) (Forbes, 1960)
Observation Methods: Strictly diurnal; virtually all records are based on chance encounters rather than trapping or baiting
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [SU]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: Apparently uncommon and possibly a habitat specialist, but also probably undersampled due to its day-flying habits. More needs to be learned about its distribution, abundance, and habitat associations in North Carolina before its conservation status can be estimated.

 Photo Gallery for Utetheisa ornatrix - Ornate Bella Moth

Photos: 12

Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-10-14
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2020-09-28
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Scott Pohlman on 2020-09-24
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Scott Pohlman on 2020-09-24
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: John Amoroso on 2020-09-04
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Sally Gewalt, and John Petranka on 2019-10-24
Brunswick Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-10-18
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Salman Abdulali on 2017-11-06
Pitt Co.
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Recorded by: J. Brown on 2017-10-15
Dare Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2016-08-17
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Randy Newman on 2004-10-20
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: SPH & DFS on 1991-09-11
Pender Co.
Comment: Seen flying during the day across a Longleaf Pine savanna.