Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members:
Acrapex Members:
51 NC Records

Acrapex relicta Ferguson, 1991 - Relict Cane Moth

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: NoctuinaeTribe: ApameiniP3 Number: 932431.00 MONA Number: 9520.10
Comments: As currently recognized, The genus Acrapex contains 82 species mostly from Africa but also Asia and Australia, as well as our single representative. Bar coding of a few has been done and indicates that the genus is polyphyletic (i.e. contains members of multiple genera) and that our species is clearly not related to most of them. Our species does, however, show an affinity to one species from Kenya. The genus that this species currently is assigned to is misapplied, but the correct genus to which it should be assigned has not been determined by experts. The genus name is sometimes placed in quotation marks ("Acrapex" relicta) to indicate the misapplied name.
Species Status: Six specimens from North Carolina have been barcoded and are conspecific with one from Florida. There is some heterogeneity in barcodes but nothing approaching 2%, a "rule-of-thumb" value often indicating divergence at the species level.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Ferguson (1991)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A small, light brown Noctuid, with narrow, somewhat pointed wings, but with rounded apices. The body and ground color of the forewings is light tan -- "dead-grass colored" (Ferguson, 1991) -- with scattered specks of dark brown representing the transverse lines. A distinctive pale vertical line is located in the cell, bisecting a horizontal dark dash of variable length. Hindwings are gray-brown. Sexes are similar.
Forewing Length: 7.5 - 10 mm, males; 8.5 - 10 mm, females (Ferguson, 1991)
Adult Structural Features: Antennae are ciliate in males, simple in females
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Apparently not described
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Most of our records come from the Coastal Plain but it also extends into the Piedmont along large rivers with extensive bottomlands. It has not yet been recorded in the Mountains, however, where another moth fauna associated with Cane exists
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Adults appear to be univoltine, flying primarily in June throughout its range, with just a few having been recorded in May or July
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: All of our records come either directly from canebrakes or from habitats where cane is expected to occur. These include Maritime Swamp Forests on the Outer Banks; Pond Pine Woodlands, Non-riverine Swamp Forests, and Longleaf Pine savannas and flatwoods in the Outer Coastal Plain; Sandhill Streamhead Swamps in the Fall-line Sandhills; and bottomland hardwoods in the Piedmont.
Larval Host Plants: Ferguson (1991) speculated that relicta feeds on some species of marsh grass. Eric Quinter discovered that, in fact, it is highly associated with Cane (Arundinaria spp.). - View
Observation Methods: Appears to come very well to blacklights
See also Habitat Account for General Cane Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W3->[off the Watchlist]
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 [S3S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Ferguson (1991) knew of records only from three sites along the Atlantic Coast, from South Carolina north to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and considered it to be rare and local. However, we have since found it in almost all cane-supporting habitats that we have sampled during its June flight period. While it is definitely a habitat specialist, its habitats currently are still fairly widespread and common. Consequently, we no longer consider it to be a potential species of significant conservation concern in North Carolina.

 Photo Gallery for Acrapex relicta - Relict Cane Moth

Photos: 9

Recorded by: Mark Basinger on 2024-05-26
Brunswick Co.
Recorded by: Mark Basinger on 2024-05-26
Brunswick Co.
Recorded by: Mark Basinger on 2024-05-26
Brunswick Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and John Petranka on 2023-06-14
Richmond Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-06-08
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-06-08
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-06-04
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-05-26
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan on 2013-06-08
Mecklenburg Co.