Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 487 NC Records

Virbia opella (Grote, 1863) - Tawny Holomelina Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930297.00 MONA Number: 8118.00 MONA Synonym: Holomelina opella
Comments: One of fourteen species in North America, five of which occur in North Carolina. In addition to the nominate form, Brimley (1938) listed V. opella nigricans as occurring in North Carolina. However, this record probably refers to what is now regarded as just a black-winged form of opella (as described by Forbes, 1960). Virbia nigricans currently refers to a species that is found only in a small area of New Jersey and Pennsylvania (see Zaspel et al., 2008).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984; as Holomelina opella); 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: Virbia opella is similar to several other orange-brown Virbias, but is generally larger and duskier. Fore-wings range from ochre- to blackish-yellow in males; females are usually cinnamon brown and have a vague, crescent-shaped discal spot. Hind-wings in the male usually are brown, similar in color to the forewings or darker. Hind-wings in the female usually have some reddish or pinkish and a variable amount of fuscous or black, including a diffuse discal spot, but the markings are not as sharply defined as in some of the other species. Specimens may be identifiable from photographs -- especially the males -- if the hindwings are visible. Males can also be identified on the basis of their genitalia (see Forbes, 1960 and Zaspel et al., 2008). Both sexes can be distinguished from aurantiaca and ferruginosa by their forewing venation (see Zaspel et al., 2008).
Forewing Length: 11 mm, males; 12 mm, females (Zaspel et al., 2008)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: A larva described by Forbes (1960) was dull gray with black spines; the head was black with a brown front. Given the lack of information on Virbia larvae, rearing to adulthood is needed to confirm their identities.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably occurs statewide
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: Has two flights in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont but apparently just one mid-season flight in the Mountains
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Virtually ubiquitous. Our records come from nearly all types of habitats in the state, including open beach dunes, Longleaf Pine habitats, and barrens, as well as densely wooded peatlands, riparian hardwoods, and both dry and mesic uplands.
Larval Host Plants: Host plant use has apparently not been observed in the wild, but probably feeds on low forbs, as reported for other members of this genus (see Forbes, 1960 and Wagner, 2005).
Observation Methods: Comes well to blacklights, with up to 45 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
See also Habitat Account for General Mixed Habitats
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: Given its abundance, widespread distribution, and generalized habitat use, this species appears to be one of our most secure species.

 Photo Gallery for Virbia opella - Tawny Holomelina Moth

Photos: 29

Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-09-24
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-07-23
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-07-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-07-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-07-14
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2020-09-01
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-08-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-10-28
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-09-09
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-09-09
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-08-12
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2019-06-26
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2019-06-26
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-11
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-11
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-11
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-07-04
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall and Ed Corey on 2017-05-17
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2015-06-19
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Ed Corey on 2013-06-04
Bladen Co.
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Recorded by: L.Amos on 2013-05-23
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Doug Blatny/Jackie Nelson on 2012-07-03
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-05-11
Warren Co.
Comment: Photo Confirmed by Bo Sullivan
Recorded by: Taylor Piephoff on 2012-05-10
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-08-16
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2010-05-10
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2007-06-27
Orange Co.
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