Moths of North Carolina
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Halysidota Members:
35 NC Records

Halysidota harrisii Walsh, 1864 - Sycamore Tussock Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930361.00 MONA Number: 8204.00
Comments: One of five species in this genus that occur in North America (Lafontaine and Schimdt, 20010), three of which have been recorded in North Carolina
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: (Not in either field guide)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONA (larvae only)Technical Description, Adults: Forbes (1960)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1960); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Adults of all three of our species of Halysidota are highly similar to one another, possessing long, pointed wings that are translucent yellow and marked with bands of slightly darker, offset cells forming a tessellated pattern. The markings of harrisii and tessellaris are virtually identical and cannot be identified from photographs; only examination of male specimens can be used for reliable identification of adult harrisii.
Adult Structural Features: Males of harrisii can be distinguished from tesselaris by the slightly different shapes to the tips of their valves, which can be seen by brushing away the scales at the ends of the abdomens (see illustration in Forbes, 1960, and Watson, 1980). In tesselaris, the upper, costal process extends farther distally than the lower, saccular process, with the situation reversed in harrisii. The valves of tessellaris are also less incurved than those of harrisii, which can sometimes be detected without dissection. No characters are known that separate females of these two species.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable only by close inspection of structural features or by DNA analysis.
Immatures and Development: Larvae, in contrast to the adults, are easy to tell apart: those of harrisii are yellowish or white with white and rust colored anterior pencils; those of tesselaris are yellowish-brown to gray, with conspicuous white and black pencils at the anterior end (Forbes, 1960; Wagner, 2005).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably absent over most of the Coastal Plain except along brownwater rivers where Sycamore occurs. Could potentially be widespread in the Piedmont and Low Mountains but too few records exist to determine its overall distribution in the state
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: Wagner (2005) states that harrisii has two flights over most of its range but there are too few records exist to detect a clear pattern
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Riparian forests, including brownwater river floodplains in the Coastal Plain and bottomland hardwoods more generally in the Piedmont and Low Mountains.
Larval Host Plants: Believed to feed solely on Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) (Forbes, 1960; Wagner, 2005).
Observation Methods: Comes to blacklights in small numbers even in areas that appear to be prime habitat, but whether that is due to lack of attraction to lights or small population sizes is unknown. May feed on flowers similarly to H. tessellaris, but none have been caught at bait. Looking for larvae blown down from Sycamores by storms appears to be the best method of searching for this species.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 S3S4
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands. Should possibly be placed on the NHP Watch List until more is learned about its actual distribution and abundance
Comments: This species is certainly a habitat specialist but appears to be even rarer than would be expected based on the distribution of Sycamore in the state. We have inspected hundreds of adult specimens with all but a tiny fraction turning out to be H. tessellaris, even in areas where Sycamore is common or at sites where we have definite records of their presence. The reason for this rarity (or apparent rarity) is unknown.

 Photo Gallery for Halysidota harrisii - Sycamore Tussock Moth

Photos: 27

Recorded by: Morgan Freese on 2022-07-04
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-26
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-08-21
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: L. Knepp on 2021-07-21
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: Aimee on 2021-06-15
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Aimee on 2021-06-15
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Aimee on 2021-06-15
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: J. Thomson on 2020-10-10
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-08-12
Madison Co.
Comment: On the underside of an American Sycamore leaf.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-19
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2018-10-01
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2018-09-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2018-09-15
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2018-09-09
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jason Brown on 2015-07-12
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: J.Williams on 2013-09-25
Vance Co.
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Recorded by: J. Anderson on 2013-09-20
Alleghany Co.
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Recorded by: B. Hartness on 2013-08-26
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2012-08-30
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2012-07-13
Northampton Co.
Comment: Larva found on ground underneath a Sycamore
Recorded by: J. Anderson on 2010-08-30
Alleghany Co.
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Recorded by: SPH on 2010-07-01
Randolph Co.
Comment: Male; wingspan = 5.0 cm; forewing length = 2.2 cm; tip of the abdomen was brushed to expose the ends of the valves
Recorded by: SPH on 2010-07-01
Randolph Co.
Comment: Larva found on the ground below a sycamore
Recorded by: FKW on 2009-07-18
Gates Co.
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Recorded by: SBW on 2006-07-10
Camden Co.
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