Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 1 NC Records

Catocala myristica Kons & Borth, 2015 - Nutmeg Underwing


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: CatocaliniP3 Number: 930769.10 MONA Number: 8780.10
Comments: One of 103 species in this genus that occur in North America (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010, 2015), 67 of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Despite its similarity in wing pattern to C. robinsonii, C. angusi, and C. flebilis, all of which belong to Species Group V of Barnes and McDunnough (1918) and Forbes (1954), bar-code results indicate it may actually be more closely related to members of Species Group VI.
Species Status: Kons and Borth (2015) found that Catocala myristica shows distinct bar-code differences from the three Catocalas that most resemble it in terms of wing markings: C. robinsonii, C. flebilis, and C. angusi (but all of which occur in Barnes and McDunnough's Group V). On the other hand, they found that it could not be distinguished based on bar-coding from several other members of the Juglandaceae-feeding Catocalas: C. maestosa, C. agrippina, C. sappho, and C. ulalume, all of which differ strongly in terms of wing markings (all except sappho are included in Group VI). There is no evidence of any inter-breeding among these species, however, and features of the male genitalia distinguish myristica from all other members of this group.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Kons and Borth (2015)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A large, silvery or bluish gray Underwing with black hindwings. Banded and unbanded forms exist that do not appear to be sex related; both form are common in the one population documented in North Carolina. The ground color of the forewings in both forms is pale white, with a opalescent, bluish or silvery cast that is quite distinctive. The reniform in both forms is filled with a large patch of dark rusty-orange that appears to match the color of some of the cracks and pits on the bark of Nutmeg Hickories, upon which the adults typically rest. In the banded form, a dark, jagged streak crosses the wing diagonally, from the base to the outer margin below the apex, also matching the dark cracks found on the bark of their host trees. Kons and Borth (2015) point out that C. myristica is very similar in appearance to Catocala robinsonii, which also has banded and unbanded forms. While the ground color is pale gray in robinsonii, it lacks the opalescent bluish-white or silvery cast, and has a much smaller and more diffuse patch of brown in the reniform. The banded form is also similar to the banded form of C. angusi, but that species also has less brown shading in the reniform and has a fuscous fringe on the hindwings, which is all white in myristica. Catocala flebilis is another species with a similar banded form, but differs in having a more mottled costal edge on the forewings, unlike the broad, mainly white costa of myristica.
Forewing Length: 35-37 mm (Kons and Borth, 2015)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae were not discussed by Kons and Borth (2015) and are apparently undescribed.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This species is likely to be completely confined to one small site located in the Outer Coastal Plain.
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: Univoltine. The flight observed on August 23, 2016 may have been close to the peak in numbers. Most individuals had beak marks on their wings or otherwise showed some wear, indicating that they had been out for some time. As noted by Kons and Borth (2015), Catocala robinsonii emerges later; our records indicate that adults of that species start emerging towards the end of September, probably around a month later than myristica.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The sole known site for both this moth and its host plant is located in the southern Outer Coastal Plain where an outcrop of marl occurs right at the surface (Wet Marl Forest).
Larval Host Plants: Monophagous, apparently feeding solely on Nutmeg Hickory (Carya myristiciformis) (Kons and Borth, 2015)
Observation Methods: Adults are easily spotted resting on the trunks of Nutmeg Hickories during the day, where they are quite sedentary. Appears to come very poorly to blacklights (Kons and Borth, 2015).
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Nutmeg Hickory Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G3G4 S1
State Protection: This species as no legal protection under either state or federal law, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands. We recommend that it be added to the Natural Heritage Program list of Rare Animal Species and be designated as Significantly Rare.
Comments: In North Carolina, this species is probably confined to the single site where Nutmeg Hickory occurs. This site occupies only about 1 square mile, with much of its former extent now occupied by pine plantations, cultivated fields, a limestone mine, and an interstate highway. Although the moth is locally abundant within the remaining stand, a single catastrophic event -- e.g., a wildfire or aerial spraying for mosquito control -- could potentially extirpate this species from the state.

 Photo Gallery for Catocala myristica - Nutmeg Underwing

Photos: 8

Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
Comment: Streaked form
Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
Comment: Typical form
Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Larry Gall, Bo Sullivan, and Stephen Hall (photographer) on 2016-08-23
Pender Co.
Comment: