Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 152 NC Records

Virbia laeta (Guérin-Méneville, 1844) - Joyful Holomelina Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930294.00 MONA Number: 8114.00 MONA Synonym: Holomelina laeta
Comments: One of fourteen species in North America, five of which occur in North Carolina
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984; as Holomelina laeta); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1960); Zaspel et al. (2008)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1960)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Unmistakeable. A moderately small moth with ash-gray to black forewings usually bordered by a narrow line of pink or crimson along the costa and with bright scarlet hindwings with a black border along the outer margin. The rear of the head is also scarlet, as is the abdomen, which has a series of black spots on the dorsal surface.
Forewing Length: 15 mm, males; 17 mm, females (Zaspel et al., 2008)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are pale grayish with feathery black hairs that have white barbs; large sub-dorsal warts are located on segment A9 (Forbes, 1960).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: The vast majority of our records come from the southern half of the Coastal Plain, including the Fall-line Sandhills. The presence of this species in the Mountains is based on a single specimen collected at New River State Park.
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: Continuously present in the Coastal Plain throughout the growing season but with three peaks in frequency
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Outside of North Carolina, Virbia laeta is reported to be generally associated with pine forests (Zaspel et al., 2008), or is considered a generalist with possibly some affinity to xeric habitats (Kons and Borth, 2009). All but two of our records, however, come from Longleaf Pine habitats, particularly Wet Pine Savannas and Sandhill Seeps. Others are associated with beaver sedge mires or depressional wetlands are embedded in sandhills habitats. Only a small number come from sites that appear to lack wet habitats.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae of this species have been reared in captivity on Dandelion and Plantago, suggesting they might be polyphagous, feeding on a wide range of forbs.
Observation Methods: Comes well to blacklights, with up to 15 collected in a single trap. Adults do not feed, so do not come to bait. Most Virbias can be flushed from their habitats during the day, indicating they are at least partially diurnal (Zaspel et al., 2008)
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S3]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: In North Carolina, at least, this species appears to be fairly specialized in terms of its habitats, at least in comparison to species such as Virbia opella and aurantiaca, which occur in a much broader range of habitat types. More needs to be learned about its exact habitat requirements -- including its host plant use -- in order to accurately determine its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Virbia laeta - Joyful Holomelina Moth

Photos: 11

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-05-27
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-05-27
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-04-09
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-09-09
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-09-16
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-09-16
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-09-16
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2014-09-27
Beaufort Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall, Scott Hartley, Chris Helms on 2000-05-02
Moore Co.
Comment: Male; wingspan = 2.2 cm; forewing length = 0.4 cm