Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 3 NC Records

Stiria rugifrons Grote, 1874 - Yellow Sunflower Moth


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AmphipyrinaeTribe: StiriiniP3 Number: 931688.00 MONA Number: 9785.00
Comments: One of seven species in this genus that occur in North America north of Mexico (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010), and the only one that has been recorded in North Carolina
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Poole (1995)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Poole (1995); Wagner et al. 2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized, contrastingly marked yellow and brown Noctuid. The top of the head and most of the forewings are ochre to bright yellow, strongly contrasting with the brown thorax and spots at the base of the forewing, a saddle at the midpoint of the inner margin, and the terminal area. Hindwings are whitish (Forbes, 1954). Other species of Stiria are very similar but do not occur in the East. Azena obtusa has similar contrasting yellow and brown markings but is much smaller and has two brown spots along the costal margin and one in the cell; the brown band along the terminal area is missing.
Wingspan: 35-40 mm (Forbes, 1954)
Forewing Length: 19.45 mm (average, Poole, 1995)
Adult Structural Features: Male reproductive structures are described and illustrated by Forbes (1954) and Poole (1995) and are distinctive. Female structures are illustrated by Poole.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are yellow and brown, with numerous warts of the same color. They live up on the flowers of their host plants where they are well camouflaged. A detailed description of the larval behavior is provided by Wagner et al. (2011), who also provide photographs.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Most of our records come from the southern Mountains, but we also have one from 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)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Our few records come from August
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Records from Cherokee County come from a wildlfower-rich powerline. The record from the Sandhills comes from a dry Longleaf Pine dominated habitat where yellow composites were common.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous, feeding on Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) (Poole, 1995; Wagner et al., 2011)
Observation Methods: Adults come to lights to some extent and probably rest on flowers during the day. Larvae can be located by looking for flower heads that show accumulations of flower remains below the feeding site (Wagner et al., 2011)
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W3
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 SU
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is considered rare and local east of the Appalachians (Forbes, 1954; Poole, 1995; Wagner et al., 2011). The fact that it feeds on a fairly common genus of host plants, however, together with its widely separated records, suggests that it may occur over a broad area the state. More surveys -- particularly of larvae -- are needed to determine its actual conservation status in the state.