Moths of North Carolina
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Zale Members:
24 NC Records

Zale phaeocapna Franclemont, 1950 - Phaeocapna Zale

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931033.00 MONA Number: 8698.00
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: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuideTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Rings et al. (1992)Technical Description, Immature Stages: McCabe (1987); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Adults are grayish to reddish brown and generally resemble Z. galbanata in size and pattern. However, they lack a marginal bar located at the middle of the outer margin, often found in both galbanata and minerea. They also tend to be more reddish than galbanata and have three darkened areas: from the base to the antemedian; between the orbicular and reniform to the costa; and between the postmedian and subterminal at the costa (Rings et al., 1992). The area between the reniform and postmedian is contrastingly pale. While fresh individuals having this combination of characters can probably be identified based on good-quality photographs, dissections of the male reproductive structures provide the most certain way to tell these species apart.
Adult Structural Features: The apices of the valves are simple in phaeocapna but forked or sharply crooked in galbanata; this difference is easy to see by brushing away the scales at the tip of the abdomen.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are banded with alternating blue-gray and yellow stripes (McCabe, 1985; Wagner et al., 2011), a distinctive pattern among the Zales. Wagner et al. also mention a bright yellow form that is frequently found on Hop-hornbeam.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Although most of our records come from the Coastal Plain, phaeocapna is probably restricted there to just the brownwater rivers (Roanoke, Tar, Neuse, and Cape Fear) plus a few other mesic habitats associated with rich soils (e.g., Wet Marl Forests). It is likely to be more widespread in the Piedmont and Mountains than our records currently indicate, but probably still not common.
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: Too few data exist to determine a pattern in North Carolina.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records almost all come from rich, mesic habitats, primarily brownwater river floodplains and Wet Marl Forests in the Coastal Plain.
Larval Host Plants: Oligophagous, feeding on a few species of shrubs in a couple of different families. McCabe (1987) reared larvae obtained from eggs laid by a wild-caught female on Hazels, both Corylus americana and C. cornuta, which were common in the area where the female was collected (other common plants were offered but refused). He was also able to switch later instar larvae from Hazel to Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), which was also present, although uncommon, at the same site. Larvae have additionally been found in the wild feeding on Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) (K. Koch, cited by McCabe, 1987).
Observation Methods: Appears to come moderately well to blacklights, with up to seven having been collected in a single trap. Probably also comes well to bait, as is true for Zales in general.
See also Habitat Account for General Corylaceous Thickets and Understories
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S3S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: Uncommon and fairly specialized in terms of habitats, apparently less common than its host plants would indicate.

 Photo Gallery for Zale phaeocapna - Phaeocapna Zale

Photos: 14

Recorded by: Jeff Niznik on 2022-04-30
Wake Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2022-04-27
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2021-08-12
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2021-08-11
Orange Co.
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-04-10
Chatham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-07-07
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2020-06-20
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-06-14
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2019-07-19
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-05-03
Madison Co.
Recorded by: J. A. Anderson on 2015-07-10
Surry Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-04-05
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-03-30
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Bo Sullivan on 1998-03-29
Craven Co.
Comment: Male. Identity confirmed by checking the valves.