Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 1 NC Records

Abrostola urentis Guenée, 1852 - Spectacled Nettle Moth


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: PlusiinaeTribe: AbrostoliniP3 Number: 931162.00 MONA Number: 8881.00
Comments: One of four species in this genus that occur in North American north of Mexico (Lafontaine and Poole, 1991), two of which have been recorded in North Carolina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Lafontaine and Poole (1991)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954); Lafontaine and Poole (1991); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-small Looper with fairly uniform or slightly mottled dark gray forewings. Members of this genus have the antemedian, postmedian, and other maculations composed of raised black scales; no silver stigma is present as is usually found in members of this subfamily (Forbes, 1954; Lafontaine and Poole, 1991). The antemedian is smoothly convex but not as strongly arched as in A. ovalis, nor does it reach the orbicular. The orbicular, sub-orbicular, and reniform spots are all large (Forbes, 1954), with the orbicular and sub-orbicular somewhat fused. The hindwings are fuscous, lighter at the base, and bordered by a pale fringe.
Wingspan: 30 mm (Forbes, 1954)
Forewing Length: 13-15 mm (Lafontaine and Poole, 1991)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are green with distinctive oblique white subdorsal lines (Wagner et al., 2011). Prolegs are present on segments A3 and A4 and a strong dorsal hump occurs on A8. Larvae of A. ovalis are similar but have bright white or yellow subdorsal spots on A1 and A2 (see illustrations and more detailed description in Wagner et al., 2011).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Only recorded in the central region of the mountains in North Carolina
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: Has two generations in New England (Wagner et al., 2011); no phenological data exist for North Carolina
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Habitats in North Carolina are unknown, but given nettles as the host plants, some type of mesic forest is likely, which include riparian forests -- fragments of which still occur along the Swannanoa River in the vicinity of Black Mountain -- as well as Rich Cove Forests and Northern Hardwoods.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous, feeding on stinging nettles (Urtica spp.) and probably Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis) (Wagner et al., 2011).
Observation Methods: The method used to collect the North Carolina specimens is unknown
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Rich Montane Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: [W3]
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: We have only one record for this species in the state despite the fact that several intensive moth surveys have been conducted in the Mountains, including the All Taxa Biological Survey of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (see Pogue, 2005 for a summary of the Plusiine records from this survey). One possible explanation for is rarity is that it could be restricted to Urtica as its larval host plants; the two species in North Carolina are both listed as S1 by the Natural Heritage Program. If, on the other hand, it makes use of Laportea as well as Urtica, then some other explanation needs to be sought, given the abundance of Wood Nettle not only in the Mountains, but also in the Piedmont and at least portions of the Coastal Plain. More surveys are needed to determine the current distribution, host plant use, and habitat associations of this species in North Carolina before its conservation status can be assessed.