Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 73 NC Records

Zale unilineata (Grote, 1876) - One-lined Zale

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931052.00 MONA Number: 8716.00
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); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954); Wagner (2005); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A large, pale-to-warm brown Zale without strong constrasting zones across the wings, although the terminal area is usually grayer than the inner portions of the wing (Forbes, 1954). The basal, antemedian, and median lines are all diffuse but the combined postmedian and subterminal lines are the most conspicuous makings on the wings. The pale portion of this line is formed by the postmedian, with the outer portion often reddish. Zale declarans has a very similar pattern overall but possesses a predominately pale line on the hindwing rather than the contrastingly dark line present in unilineata; the outer margin is also more scalloped in unilineata. In North Carolina, these two species occupy widely separated ranges, with the Black Locusts that unilineata feeds upon generally not present (if present at all) in the maritime forests and coastal fringe sandhills occupied by declarans.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are similar to those of Zale undularis, which also feed on Black Locust. While possibly separable based on several characters, Wagner et al. (2011) recommend that larvae of these species be reared to adulthood in order to determine their identities.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Previously recorded only in the Mountains and Western Piedmont, where Black Locust is native, but now found to the eastern edge of the Piedmont
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: Appears to have a single flight in the spring
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records come from mesic-to-dry sites in the Mountains, but it is not clear whether Black Locust is growing under completely natural conditions at all these sites or may have been planted. In the eastern Piedmont, it has been recorded in areas where Black Locust is mostly all planted or escaped.
Larval Host Plants: Monophagous, reported to feed only on Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) (Forbes, 1954; Wagner, 2005; Wagner et al., 2011).
Observation Methods: Appears to come quite well to blacklights with large numbers having been taken in single traps. Like other Zales, it probably also comes well to bait
See also Habitat Account for Locust Groves and Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: The natural habitats used by this species are unclear; Black Locust is often associated with rural lands in North Carolina and is now often planted well outside of their natural range within the state. With recent records from the eastern Piedmont, this unilineata may be expanding its range within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Zale unilineata - One-lined Zale

Photos: 16

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-10
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-06-03
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-23
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-23
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-04-04
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2018-06-01
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-05-11
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-04-14
Madison Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2015-05-13
McDowell Co.
Recorded by: J. Merrill Lynch on 2015-05-09
Watauga Co.
Recorded by: T. Nergart on 2015-04-15
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2015-04-08
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2014-05-20
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2013-05-08
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-03-12
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2011-04-20
Buncombe Co.