Moths of North Carolina
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145 NC Records

Zale aeruginosa (Guenée, 1852) - Green-dusted Zale

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931029.00 MONA Number: 8694.00
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: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner (2005); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A dark umber to coal black Zale, often with some bands of brown or purple; almost always frosted with green or greenish white scales, which make it unmistakable.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are fairly distinctive, colored a pinkish to reddish brown and possessing a well-developed mid-dorsal stripe (see Wagner et al., 2011, for details).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably occurs statewide, although we have no records from the Outer Banks and other barrier islands (despite the fact that Live Oak has been reported as one of its host plants).
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 appear to be present in from spring to fall over most areas of the state.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: In the Coastal Plain, aeruginosa is common in both Pocosins and other peatland habitats, as well as Longleaf Pine Savannas and Flatwoods, all habitats where heaths are a major component of the vegetation but oaks are either rare or absent. In the Piedmont, it has been recorded again at sites where heaths are common (e.g., Black Ankle Bog and Hanging Rock State Park) but not at several intensively sampled mafic habitats where heaths are rare but oaks are not. Habitats used in the Mountains include both riparian and upland communities, in most of which both heaths and oaks are common.
Larval Host Plants: Franclemont (cited by Forbes, 1954) reported aeruginosa as feeding on White Oak (Quercus alba) and Live Oak (Q. virginiana); these same two species were also reported as host plants by Kimball, 1965; Covell, 1984; and Wagner, 2005, perhaps based on Franclemont and Forbes. We have not, however, recorded this species in maritime forests on the barrier islands where Live Oak is dominant (we have, however, recorded it at a couple of mainland sites where small amounts of Live Oak are present). At many other sites where we have records for this species, no oaks are present at all, including many peatland and Longleaf Pine communities in the Coastal Plain, where aeruginosa is common. Although it may feed on oaks to some extent (Wagner et al., 2011, were able to rear ex ovo larvae on oaks), we strongly suspect it feeds primarily on Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), which were recorded as host plants by Quinter and Wagner et al. (2011), and possibly other species of heaths.
Observation Methods: Appears to come well to blacklights, with up to 17 caught in a single trap (1-3 being much more frequent numbers). Like other Zales, it also comes well to bait.
See also Habitat Account for General Wet-Dry Heath Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This species may be specialist on heath-containing habitats, including lowland and upland examples. Collectively, these habitats are widespread across the state, however, as is probably aeruginosa itself, making it relatively secure from most short-term, localized impacts.

 Photo Gallery for Zale aeruginosa - Green-dusted Zale

Photos: 26

Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2022-08-03
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: tom ward on 2022-05-04
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Lior Carlson on 2021-09-18
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-22
Graham Co.
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-04-10
Chatham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-03-29
Bladen Co.
Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-26
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-09-01
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2018-08-03
Graham Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2017-05-02
Stokes Co.
Recorded by: G. Schneider on 2017-03-27
Iredell Co.
Recorded by: j.wyche on 2016-07-16
Gates Co.
Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2015-05-06
Durham Co.
Recorded by: L. Amos on 2015-04-22
Warren Co.
Recorded by: E. Corey, T. DeSantis on 2015-04-13
Orange Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2015-04-09
McDowell Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2014-06-25
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2014-04-23
McDowell Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2014-04-14
Madison Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2014-04-04
McDowell Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-04-28
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-04-19
Warren Co.
Comment: Confirmed via specimen by Bo Sullivan
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2010-07-09
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Taylor Piephoff on 2010-04-09
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall, Paul Hart, Bruce Sorrie on 2005-04-07
Harnett Co.
Recorded by: SPH & DFS on 1991-07-11
Pender Co.
Comment: Collected on beer/banana bait in Longleaf Pine Flatwoods. Wingspan = 4.3 cm