Moths of North Carolina
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Estigmene Members:
54 NC Records

Estigmene acrea (Drury, 1773) - Salt Marsh Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930317.00 MONA Number: 8131.00
Comments: One of two species in this genus north of Mexico and the only one in our area
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: Males are unmistakeable, with a combination of white forewings, dotted with black, and bright orange hindwings; easily identifiable from photographs that show at least a portion of the hindwings. Females are white with black spots on both pairs of wings and are similar in color to several other species of Arctiinae. They are larger and have longer hindwings than spotted members of Spilosoma and are much larger than Hyphantria; they are, conversely, smaller than Hypercompe scribonia, which has ring-shaped spots (some cobalt blue) that are missing in Estigmene. Can be distinguished in photographs from Spilosoma congrua if the dorsal surface of the abdomen is showing -- it is pure white in congrua but strongly orange and spotted with black in Estigmene. Spilosoma dubia also has a yellow abdomen with dark spots but is more overlain with long white hair, which is missing in the much more brightly-colored abdomens of Estigmene. The thorax is also covered with long, fluffy white scales in Spilosoma species but is closely-scaled in Estigmene.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: Larvae are highly variable and similar to the equally variable larvae of Spilosoma species; probably best identified through rearing (Estigmene larvae are described as extremely fast-moving, capable of running down and eating other caterpillars -- Forbes, 1960).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Described by Brimley (1938) as occurring from Wilkes and Catawba Counties eastward, but we now have several records from at least the Low Mountains. Probably occurs statewide except possibly the High Mountains.
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: Reported to have two broods over most of the East (Forbes, 1960; Wagner, 2005). Our records may be consistent with that pattern but adults appear to be present throughout most of the growing season, at least in the Coastal Plain.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Wagner (2005) lists general open areas as the habitats used by this species. Most of our records come from salt-marsh habitats and adjoining dune grasslands at Fort Macon State Park. Other records come from areas with fresh-water marshes or wet old-field habitats (e.g., New River State Park, Mason Farm Biological Preserve, Smith Creek Restoration site). We have only a couple of records from Longleaf Pine savannas, however, and none from peatlands, which may indicate that it is not adapted to frequent fire.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, feeding on many low-growing forbs and graminoids -- including crop species -- as well as woody plants, including some tree species (Wagner, 2005).
Observation Methods: Appears to come somewhat poorly to blacklights, with only single specimens being collected in light traps, and not at all to bait.
Wikipedia
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: While we suspect that this species is more common than our records indicate, and that it probably occurs in a wide range of human-altered, open habitats, we have too few records to be completely sure about its status in the state.

 Photo Gallery for Estigmene acrea - Salt Marsh Moth

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

Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-07-26
Greene Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-07-18
Chowan Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-06-28
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish and Joy Wiggins on 2022-04-12
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell & Pat McConnell on 2021-09-25
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-08
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-05-21
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-14
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-14
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-13
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-11
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-11
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-11
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2017-09-24
Duplin Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2017-09-03
Duplin Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2017-09-03
Duplin Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2017-08-14
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2017-08-14
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Tracy S. Feldman on 2017-08-14
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2017-07-20
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2017-06-16
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: J. A. Anderson on 2017-05-17
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger on 2017-04-17
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: K. Flood, M. Gosselin on 2014-05-07
Dare Co.
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Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-05-05
Dare Co.
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Recorded by: Doug Blatny/Jackie Nelson on 2012-05-04
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2010-08-22
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2010-06-24
Warren Co.
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