Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 4 NC Records

Catocala miranda Hy. Edwards, 1881 - Miranda Underwing



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: CatocaliniP3 Number: 930842.00 MONA Number: 8855.00
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. Miranda was included by Barnes and McDunnough (1918) in their Group XVII (also adopted by Forbes, 1954), which feed mainly on members of the Rosaceae; 12 other members of this group (as redefined by Kons and Borth, 2015b) also occur in North Carolina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Sargent (1976)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Schweitzer et al. (2011); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized Catocala with a pale gray forewing and black hindwings. It differs from C. orba primarily in size (Sargent, 1976); our specimens of orba exceed 50 mm in wingspan, whereas Sargent states that miranda ranges only from 40-45 mm. Schweitzer et al. (2011) also mention that miranda usually has some darker shadings, particularly towards the inner margin, whereas orba is more uniformly pale. C. miranda additionally resembles C. judith in color, and pattern, but is smaller, paler, and has narrower forewings. The pattern on the undersides of the wings easily separates the two: miranda possesses nearly all black hindwings but those of judith have a broad pale area located towards the base (Forbes, 1954; Sargent, 1976). Records submitted for this species should give some indication of size (e.g., a coin included in the photograph).
Wingspan: 40-45 mm (Sargent, 1976)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: Larvae are illustrated but not described in detail in both Schweitzer et al. (2011) and Wagner et al. (2011). Based on the photographs, individuals can be brown or green, with a moderate-sized, upright brown horn on the dorsum of segment A5. The head has dark brown stripes on the side. At least one specimen (green in color) appears to be smooth-skinned.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Our records all come from the southern half of the Mountains, including the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge escarpment and the southeastern slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains
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, with individuals recorded in North Carolina from mid-June to mid-July
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Habitats at the Graham and Haywood County sites probably consist of rich cove forest. While rich cove forest is present at the Rutherford County site, the collection site itself was located in a cedar barrens associated with a knob of a somewhat mafic rock formation.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophaous, feeding on a narrow range of hawthorns. Crataegus spathulata was specifically listed as a host plant for a population in Florida. In North Carolina, that species is sporadic in the southwestern portion of the state but occurs in both bottomland forests as well as occasionally drier, rockier sites where mafic subtrates exist, matching the two locations where our records come from for miranda.
Observation Methods: Schweitzer et al. (2011) suggest that this species may be particularly hard to observe, flying late at night, possibly coming poorly to lights, but also not coming to bait. While tapping has had some success in Florida, it is not known to have produced any results for this species elsewhere.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Montane Rosaceous Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W3
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G3G4 SU->[S2S3]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species has long been regarded as very rare and local (Sargent, 1976), with very few records known from North Carolina. Schweitzer et al. (2011) speculate that it might simply be undercollected due to its late night flight period. However, overnight moth traps have been used extensively in North Carolina, including many areas in the southern half of the mountains. Its possible association with a somewhat rare species of hawthorn may also provide an answer, but areas in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain where Crataegus spathulata is more common have not been sampled. Until that is done, or the host plants used in North Carolina are more certainly documented and their distribution clarified, it is difficult to make an accurate assessment of the conservation status of this species.