Moths of North Carolina
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37 NC Records

Zale helata (Smith, 1908) - Brown-spotted Zale


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931039.00 MONA Number: 8704.00
Comments: One of 39 species in this genus that occur north of Mexico, 23 of which have been recorded in North Carolina
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: McDunnough (1943); Forbes (1954); Rings et al. (1992)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954), Wagner (2005), Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Belongs to a group of pine-feeding Zales, all of which possess a sharp, outward-pointing tooth on the antemedian line where the radial vein crosses. This species is one of the easier ones to identify in this group. It ranges from bright brown to grayish brown with a prominent dark color preceding the antemedian line and filling in its convexities; a similar dark shading also occupies the space between the postmedian and subterminal lines (McDunnough, 1943; Forbes, 1954). The median lines, in contrast, are quite weak, although the innermost line runs across the wing before the reniform spot, not along its inner edge. Unlike most members of this group (except buchholzi), there is little contrast between the inner and outer zones defined by the medial line. Fresh individuals should be identifiable on the basis of a good photograph; more worn individuals can be determined through dissection.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae of helata are quite variable, including both green and brown forms but can be distinguished using characters given in Wagner (2005) and Wagner et al. (2011).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from close inspection of specimens or by DNA analysis.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably occurs over the entire state
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: Probably single brooded with adults flying only in the spring
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: North Carolina records appear to come from the entire spectrum of pine-containing habitats, including maritime forests, peatlands, wet Longleaf savannas and xeric sandhills, dry Piedmont and Mountain ridges.
Larval Host Plants: Oligophagous, feeding on a wide range of pines, including both White Pine (Pinus strobus) and hard pines; also feeds rarely on Larch (Larix spp.) (Forbes, 1954)
Observation Methods: Helata may be poorly attracted to lights, which, along with its relatively early flight period, could be a factor explaining the scarcity of records in North Carolina. Bait is probably a more effective way to sample for it, as is true for several other species of Zale.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Pine Forests and Woodlands
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: Although a uncommonly collected species in North Carolina, too little is known about the distribution and habitat affinities of helata to estimate its conservation needs.

 Photo Gallery for Zale helata - Brown-spotted Zale

Photos: 17

Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2022-06-21
Caswell Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-04-30
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-04-23
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-06-17
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-26
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-09
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-09
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-05-09
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-23
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-05-17
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, L. Amos on 2015-05-12
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2015-04-10
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2015-04-10
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2014-05-08
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2014-05-02
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2012-04-25
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2007-04-24
Orange Co.
Comment: Observation site contains a mixture of Loblolly, Scrub, and Shortleaf Pines