Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 1 NC Records

Catocala abbreviatella Grote, 1872 - Abbreviated Underwing Moth


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: CatocaliniP3 Number: 930827.00 MONA Number: 8841.00
Comments: One of 103 species in this genus that occur in North America (Gall and Hawks, 2010; Kons and Borth, 2015a,b), 67 of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Placed in the Legume-feeding Species Group XIII by Forbes (1954), with C. amestris and illecta being the only other members of this group recorded in North Carolina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Sargent (1976)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-large Underwing, with pale gray forewings and yellow-orange and black-banded hindwings. The antemedian is heavy and black, but extends obliquely from the costa only to the fold, then becoming obsolete (Forbes, 1954). The reniform is also marked by a heavy black outline and has a black central lunule. Other markings are faint or obsolete, although the upper portion of the postmedian is often visible as a black line running obliquely from the costa to the cell and the inner boundary of the subreniform is usually visible as a black crescent. The hindwings have heavy black postmedian and marginal bands, the second of which ends abruptly before the inner margin (Sargent, 1976).
Wingspan: 40-50 mm (Sargent, 1976)
Adult Structural Features: Members of this species group lack spines on the fore-tibiae, have valves that are symmetrical and blunt, possess eggs that are hemispherical and vertically ribbed, and have smooth, cylindrical larvae (Forbes, 1954)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: This is one of only two Amorpha-feeding Underwings that have been recorded in the state, the other being C. amestris. The larvae of abbreviatella are pale, brownish gray and striped with somewhat darker brown lines. The larvae of amestris, in comparison, are lavender and marked with black lines and yellow spots (Wagner et al., 2011).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Recorded historically in the Fall-line Sandhills
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)

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Flight Comments: Univoltine, with our records from June
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our sole record comes from an area of Amorpha-containing sandhills habitat.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous, feeding on species of Leadplant and Indigo-bush (Amorpha spp.) (Forbes, 1954; Sargent, 1976; Wagner, et al., 2011). Amorpha canescens is one of its primary host plants in the prairies of the Midwest, where the main part of the range of this moth is located. However, that particular species of Amorpha does not occur in the east, and other species -- particularly species associated with sandhills habitats, including, A. herbacea -- are likely to be used instead.
Observation Methods: We do not have enough information to determine how well this species comes to light or bait. Searching for larvae may be the most productive approach to sample for this species.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Loamy, Fire-maintained Herblands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: [SR]
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 SH
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Considered by Sargent (1976) as primarily western and only "sporadic, rare, or accidental" over most of the eastern United States. Our records are from an Amorpha-containing habitat, which make it likely that there have been residential colonies here, at least in the past. The current status of this species is unknown, however, and we regard its occurrence as historic. Efforts should be made to search for larvae in Amorpha populations, particularly in the Sandhills, in order to confirm its current status.