Moths of North Carolina
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Zale Members:
109 NC Records

Zale declarans (Walker, [1858]) - Dixie Zale

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931025.00 MONA Number: 8691.00
Comments: One of 39 species in this genus that occur north of Mexico, 23 of which have been recorded in North Carolina
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuideTechnical Description, Adults: Adults are illustrated in Kimball (1965) and Wagner et al. (2011) but neither give a detailed description of the adult characteristicsTechnical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner (2005); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A brown to umber Zale, either fairly uniformly colored across the wings or with a contrastingly grayish sub-terminal area. Somewhat similar to Z. unilineata in coloration and in possessing a narrow, constrastingly pale line formed by the postmedian and subterminal; differs from unilineata in possessing a predominately pale postmedian line on the hindwing rather than the contrastingly dark line present in unilineata. It also differs strongly in habitat, with the Black Locusts that unilineata feeds upon generally not present (if present at all) in the maritime forests and coastal fringe sandhills used by declarans.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: Late instar larvae are strongly striped, which, along with their feeding on live oaks, makes them fairly distinctive (see Wagner et al., 2011, for more details).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Restricted to the outer coast, found mostly on barrier islands but also on the mainland at Carolina Beach State Park and at Camp Lejeune (both within just a couple of miles inland from the coast)
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: Adults are present during most of the growing season but appear to be most abundant in the spring (the same pattern was noted by Wagner et al., 2011).
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Strongly associated with Maritime Evergreen Forest and Maritime Shrub communities but also occurs in Coastal Fringe Sandhills
Larval Host Plants: Feeds on Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) and probably Sand Live Oak (Q. geminata), given its presence in Coastal Fringe Sandhills habitats (where Live Oak is only occasional)
Observation Methods: Seems to come to blacklights more readily than other Zales, with numbers collected in single light traps commonly exceeding 10 (maximum of 35); although we haven't collected it using bait, it is likely to be as strongly attracted as other species of Zale.
See also Habitat Account for Live Oak Forests and Maritime Scrub Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 S2S3
State Protection: Tracked as Significantly Rare by the Natural Heritage Program; not given any legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: As a strong habitat specialist restricted to just a narrow strip of the North Carolina coast, this species appears to be highly vulnerable to hurricanes as well as the effects of sea-level rise. Much of its habitat, moreover, has been lost due to coastal development, although it may be able to persist in areas where Live Oaks and coastal scrub communities have been integrated into the landscape surrounding houses and beach condos. Impacts from outdoor lighting are not known.

 Photo Gallery for Zale declarans - Dixie Zale

Photos: 15

Recorded by: R. Newman on 2022-05-05
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-08-30
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-04-07
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-03-27
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-03-14
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-08-31
Dare Co.
Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-05-28
Dare Co.
Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-05-25
Dare Co.
Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-04-27
Dare Co.
Recorded by: Newman,Randy on 2010-04-02
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 2006-05-23
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 2005-04-05
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 1999-11-30
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: JBS on 1996-07-16
Carteret Co.
Comment: Collected in maritime scrub. Wingspan = 3.5 cm
Recorded by: JBS on 1994-03-23
New Hanover Co.
Comment: Collected in maritime forest. Wingspan = 3.5 cm