Moths of North Carolina
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25 NC Records

Zale intenta Walker, [1858] - Bold-based Zale

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931049.00 MONA Number: 8713.10
Comments: One of 39 species in this genus that occur north of Mexico, 23 of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Zale intenta was recently separated from Z. lunifera, a close sibling species, by Schmidt (2010).
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Schmidt (2010)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Zale intenta and lunifera are most clearly distinguished using DNA analysis (including DNA bar-coding). Other characters that Schmidt used to distinguish the two species are variable, including size, degree of elongation of the wing, prominence of the orbicular, intensity of striation on the forewing, and degree of sinuousity of the antemedian. Genitalic differences -- the last resort for identifying other Zales -- are only slight, especially in the males. Several of these characters, moreover, appear to be more clearly distinct in the Northeast; in North Carolina, specimens that have been bar-coded as intenta appear to be smaller than those bar-coded as lunifera (the opposite of what Schmidt found), with the other characters also not consistently different. In the Northeast, intenta is widespread and believed to feed primarily on Cherry, whereas lunifera is confined to sandy pine barrens where it feeds on Scrub Oak (Q. ilicifolia). Those patterns have not, however, been clearly established in the Southeast, including North Carolina. Virtually all of our older records were assigned to lunifera and will take an effort to go back through existing specimens to re-determine their identities. In the meantime, we assume that the majority of records actually refer to intenta, presumably the more common, widespread species. We restrict records for lunifera primarily to specimens that have been confirmed by bar-coding.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable only by close inspection of structural features or by DNA analysis.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Intenta is likely to have a statewide distribution but the situation is currently unclear due to past confusion with lunifera
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 univoltine with adults flying two-three weeks earlier than lunifera (Wagner et al., 2011)
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: In the Northeast, Zale lunifera is believed to be highly confined to sandy barrens located close to the coast, where they are associated with populations of Scrub Oak; all other records are assumed to represent intenta. In North Carolina, however, several species that feed on Scrub Oak up north feed on other xeric oaks, including Turkey Oak (Quercus laevis) and Blackjack Oak (Q. marilandica). Those that feed on Blackjack in particular often occur outside the Coastal Plain, including well up into the Mountains (e.g., Hemileuca maia, Hyparpax aurora, and Morrisonia mucens). It seems unsafe to simply assume, therefore, that the same pattern observed for lunifera in the Northeast will be the same down here. Conversely, since Black Cherry can occur in even some of the driest habitats in the state, it is also not safe to assume that all records for this complex coming from xeric sandhills represent lunifera. Waiting to see how bar-coded specimens sort out by habitat appears to be the best course.
Larval Host Plants: Wagner et al. (2011) report that Cherry -- especially Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) -- and Plums are the main host plants, although at least one adult has been reared by Dale Schweitzer from a larva found on Willow Oak (Q. phellos).
Observation Methods: Appears to come moderately well to blacklights, with large numbers of individuals occasionally being collected in single traps. Like other Zales, it probably also comes well to bait.
See also Habitat Account for General Rosaceous Thickets
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: Probably is a secure species in North Carolina but more information is needed on its distribution and habitat associations before its conservation needs can be estimated

 Photo Gallery for Zale intenta - Bold-based Zale

Photos: 11

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-05-04
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2023-04-20
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2021-05-11
Graham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-18
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-03-26
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2020-03-19
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2019-03-29
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Robert Gilson on 2016-04-06
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-04-22
Warren Co.
Comment: Confirmed via specimen by Bo Sullivan
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-04-21
Warren Co.
Comment: Confirmed via specimen by Bo Sullivan
Recorded by: Taylor Piephoff on 2010-03-26
Mecklenburg Co.