Moths of North Carolina
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Apantesis Members:
27 NC Records

Apantesis phyllira (Drury, 1773) - Phyllira Tiger Moth

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930242.00 MONA Number: 8194.00 MONA Synonym: Grammia phyllira
Comments: The genus Apantesis is represented by 43 species in North America, including 13 species in North Carolina.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1960); Schmidt (2009)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1960); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized, boldly marked Tiger Moth that is fairly easy to identify based on good quality photographs showing both the fore- and hindwings. Both sexes are similar to male A. placentia but are slightly smaller and narrower-winged. Hind-wings are crimson, with a prominent black spot in the medial area and with a row of large spots in the sub-terminal area, similar to that in A. parthenice but constrasting with the much thinner line of A. placentia. The form typically found in our area lacks fine vein lines on the forewings, although forms with these lines -- formerly identified as A. oithonia -- can occur in all populations of this species (see Schmidt, 2009). Individuals with that pattern are similar to A. parthenice, but are much smaller (in our area) and possess a pinkish rather than cream color on the undersides of the forewings; the post-median is also much straighter in A. phyllira than in A. parthenice. Typical individuals possess broad yellow bands (using the terminology of Schmidt, 2009) along the sub-cubital, medial, post-medial, and sub-terminal lines, and variably along the costa and inner margin. These bands are much better developed than in A. figurata (which also differs in hindwing pattern) but are comparable to those found in male A. placentia. The medial line, however, is more curved in A. phyllira, particularly towards the costa and meets the costa at an acute angle, unlike that of A. placentia, where the medial is straight and meets the costa at a right angle (Forbes, 1960; Covell, 1984). The distance between the costal intersections of the medial and post-medial lines is only about 2x the distance between the intersections of the medial and post-medial with the sub-cubital, whereas it is about 3-4x the distance in placentia (Schmidt, 2009). Schmidt also notes that the last abdominal segment is black and pale in A. phyllira but solid black in A. placentia.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: Larvae are black with dark bristles and possess a beaded mid-dorsal stripe, consisting of one dot per segment located in the middle of the segments (Forbes, 1960). This pattern is very similar to that of A. figurata, however, and Apantesis larvae are generally similar to one another (Wagner, 2005), and should be reared in order to determine their identity.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: May occur sparsely over much of the state but has not yet been recorded in the northern Coastal Plain, southern mountains, or from the Outer Banks and other barrier islands
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Probably has two to three flights in the Coastal Plain but possibly just one in the Mountains.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Schmidt (2009) states that "Grammia (Apantesis) phyllira occurs in dry, open woodland and grassland", including sandy prairie habitats in western Canada. The majority of our records come from Longleaf Pine flatwoods and sandhills -- the drier extremes of Longleaf habitats; records from wetter savannas and sandhill seepage bogs -- representing the wetter extreme -- on the other hand are lacking. Habitat was not recorded in the historic records from the Piedmont. In the Mountains, it may be associated with old pastures along the New River, possibly associated with sandy soils.
Larval Host Plants: Members of this genus are highly polyphagous, feeding on a wide range of herbaceous plants, with dicots possibly preferred (Schmidt, 2009). - View
Observation Methods: Appears to come sparsely to blacklights, almost always as single individuals. The mouthparts are non-functional (Singer, 2000, cited in Schmidt, 2009), so it does not come to bait.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W2
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 S3->[SU]
State Protection: Listed as Significantly Rare in North Carolina by the Natural Heritage Program; probably should be moved to the Watch List. It has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Uncommon to rare and apparently specialized on Longleaf Pine habitats in the Coastal Plain. The distribution in the Mountains is less clear and it also appears to be associated with old pastures in that area, although possibly in association with sandy soils. Distribution and habitat preferences need to be better understood in both the Mountains and Piedmont before an accurate assessment can be made of its conservation status.

 Photo Gallery for Apantesis phyllira - Phyllira Tiger Moth

Photos: 7

Recorded by: John Petranka and Jim Petranka on 2023-05-19
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall, and Bo Sullivan. on 2022-09-26
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2022-08-28
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan, and Steve Hall on 2022-07-25
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan, and Steve Hall on 2022-07-25
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2021-10-03
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall, Scott Hartley, Chris Helms on 2000-05-23
Moore Co.
Comment: Male; typical pattern; wingspan = 4.0 cm; forewing length = 1.9 cm