Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 47 NC Records

Harrisimemna trisignata (Walker, 1856) - Harris's Three-spot Moth

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AcronictinaeP3 Number: 931498.00 MONA Number: 9286.00
Comments: A genus of two species, one from Japan and one from North America, largely the eastern part but that distribution tails toward Alaska and may trace the origin of our species. Currently it is a member of the Acronictinae but has been placed elsewhere in its history.
Species Status: Examples from North Carolina have been barcoded. Overall there appear to be two clusters of barcodes, one from eastern Canada and the other from throughout the species’ range including eastern Canada. The clusters are about 1.3% apart and probably represent a historical separation, reuniting of partially differentiated populations, and now two well separated clusters of barcodes. No other data support the existence of multiple species.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The unique pattern with circular brown spots near the wing apices will easily identify this species. Sexes are similar.
Wingspan: 30-35 mm (Forbes, 1954)
Adult Structural Features: The male and female genitalia are consistent with those of other Acronictines and should serve as a tool to recognize them should the need arise.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The caterpillar is most peculiar with a large hump on the eighth abdominal segment and with its shed head capsules retained on its thoracic setae (consult Wagner et al (2011) for details). Given the oddity of its form and behavior, the life history should be studied in more detail.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Distributed across the state
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: It appears to have one brood in the Mountains, two in the Piedmont, and perhaps three in the Coastal Plain.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Almost all of our records come from wet or mesic forests. These include both riverine and non-riverine swamp forests, pond-pine woodlands and other peatlands, bottomland hardwoods, mesic ravines, and river and lake shorelines
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, reported from a very wide variety of woody plants but particularly Ilex (hollies).
Observation Methods: Adults come to light, but the scarcity of records despite its wide range of habitats could indicate that it comes only poorly. They are not known to respond to bait or flowers.
See also Habitat Account for General Wet-Mesic Hardwood Forests
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: More needs to be learned about the host plants and habitats preferred by this species, but it is widely distributed across the state and seems to occupy a wide range of habitats. Consequently, it appears to be secure within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Harrisimemna trisignata - Harris's Three-spot Moth

Photos: 18

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2022-06-21
Wake Co.
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-09-03
Chatham Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-17
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-04-28
Guilford Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-08-26
Orange Co.
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2019-07-18
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-07-07
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-07-05
Madison Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2018-05-09
Burke Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2017-05-22
McDowell Co.
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, S. Hall on 2015-07-22
Stanly Co.
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, P. Scharf, K. Kittelberger on 2015-06-18
Avery Co.
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2014-08-03
McDowell Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2014-05-24
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2014-05-22
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-08-10
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Taylor Piephoff on 2011-05-02
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: ASH on 2006-06-14
Moore Co.