Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
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View PDFErebidae Members:
Ledaea Members:
58 NC Records

Ledaea perditalis (Walker, 1859) - Lost Owlet Moth

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: PangraptinaeP3 Number: 930560.00 MONA Number: 8491.00
Comments: Three species comprise this genus, two from Central America and one from the US and Canada that occurs throughout most of North Carolina.
Species Status: Specimens from North Carolina have been barcoded and resemble those from elsewhere in the species’ range. There is no evidence of hidden species.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized, tan Erebid with a strong, dark postmedian that runs diagonally from near the apex to the middle of the inner margin. Adults hold their wings to form a triangle much like many herminines, none of which are similar in pattern. Spargaloma sexpunctata is also similar but is a darker gray and the postmedian runs a less slanted course across the wing.
Adult Structural Features: Both male and female genitalia are distinct. The female has a pair of peculiar pits in the abdominal wall whose structure and function have not been investigated. The horn-like formation at the distal end of the male valves is unique; in the female the unsclerotized area between the ostium and the distal end of the ductus bursae is also unusual.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are similar to those of Pangrapta decoralis: green and spindle-shaped, with two prominent lines on the head, and reduced prolegs on A3 and A4. Two subdorsal pale lines are prominent and either a narrow pale mid-dorsal line or a broader reddish line may be present (see Wagner et al., 2011 for illustrations and detailed description). The caterpillars remain on the host, usually because the host plants are usually growing in standing water; pupation may occur on the plant but has not been observed.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Found over most of the state, but we do not have any records from the High Mountains or Barrier Islands.
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: There seem to be as many as three broods in the Coastal Plain, but probably just two in the western Piedmont and Lower Mountains.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Virtually all of our records come from shallow impoundments, including beaver ponds, floodplain sloughs, depression ponds, open swamps, lakeshores, and coastal freshwater marshes, all habitats occupied by Buttonbush.
Larval Host Plants: Monophagous, feeding solely on Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Observation Methods: Adults come to light and we have seen one at bait. Their response to flowers is unknown and someone should check the flowers at night to see if adults are as attracted to Buttonbush as are many other insects, particularly skippers and other butterflies. Caterpillars are usually easy to locate by beating the foliage of Buttonbush.
See also Habitat Account for Shoreline Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Although highly specialized in terms of host plants, Ledaea occurs across most of the state and is associated with a wide range of common freshwater habitats, including artificial ponds, reservoirs, and borrow pits. It appears to be secure within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Ledaea perditalis - Lost Owlet Moth

Photos: 10

Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2022-05-03
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-08-17
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-08
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-03
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-05-25
Durham Co.
Recorded by: F. Williams, S. Williams on 2018-09-21
Gates Co.
Recorded by: F. Williams, S. Williams on 2018-09-21
Gates Co.
Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2015-08-13
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf, B. Bockhahn, L. Amos on 2015-05-12
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2013-04-06
Cabarrus Co.