Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 25 NC Records

Dasychira plagiata (Walker, 1865) - Northern Pine Tussock Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: LymantriinaeTribe: OrgyiiniP3 Number: 930156.00 MONA Number: 8304.00
Comments: One of 16 species in this genus that occur in North America, 10 of which have been recorded in North Carolina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948) lumps both plagiata and pinicola under pini. Technical Description, Immature Stages: Ferguson (1978) provides a key to the larvae.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Males are fairly uniformly gray to grayish-brown, with little contrast between the median area and the basal and subterminal areas. As in manto, the reniform is bounded by white patches, but the lines are much thinner in plagiata than manto (Forbes, 1948). Both lines are dentate and the postmedian is sinuous, becoming concave towards the inner margin. Ferguson (1978) mentions that the postmedian is commonly recurved opposite the cell and meets the costa at an acute angle. In some forms, there is a basal dash, but it rarely reaches the antemedian (Forbes, 1948). Females are larger but similarly marked.
Adult Structural Features: Dasychira species have two dorsal tufts on their abdomens, whereas Orgyia have just one. Adults lack mouthparts. Male genitalia differ from manto in the shape of the valve, uncus, and juxta (Ferguson, 1978). Females also differ from manto in the form of the anterior apophyses and in the degree of sclerotization of the ventral pouch posterior to the ostium (Ferguson, 1978).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are dark gray with reddish warts and a full complement of black hair pencils: two anteriorally and three posteriorally. A single row of black, plumose, clavate hairs runs along the sides of the thorax and abdomen (Ferguson, 1978). Larvae of manto are similar but have black rather than brown barbed hairs and have generally longer, fuller hair pencils; longer spines; and darker dorsal tufts (Ferguson, 1978).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This a northern species that is essentially confined the Mountains in North Carolina. One record exists from Lake James State Park, however, which is located in the Piedmont but close to the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment.
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: Appears to have just a single adult flight in North Carolina.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Records in North Carolina come mainly from mesic stands of mixed hardwoods and conifers, including riparian and cove forests at elevations where Hemlock or White Pine are the likely hosts. Records from higher elevations also exist, where Spruce or Fir could be the main host plants used.
Larval Host Plants: This species appears to be a generalist on conifer species, feeding on Spruce, Fir, Hemlock, White Pine, and on at least some species of hard pines (Ferguson, 1978).
Observation Methods: Our records all come from 15 watt UV light traps. Adults do not feed, so do not come to bait or to flowers. Larvae are distinctive and should be looked for on low-growing trees and shrubs. The hair of all Lymantriinae larvae are possibly urticating, however, and should be handled with care (Ferguson, 1978).
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR [S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species appears to occupy a wide range of conifer-containing habitats in the Mountains. Loss of Fir and Hemlock may reduce its populations or range, but its use of Spruce and White Pine means that it is unlikely to be extirpated from the state.

 Photo Gallery for Dasychira plagiata - Northern Pine Tussock Moth

Photos: 4

Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-09-14
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-09-07
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-26
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2014-05-31
McDowell Co.
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