Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 102 NC Records

Cosmia calami (Harvey, 1876) - American Dun-bar Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: NoctuinaeTribe: XyleniniP3 Number: 932672.00 MONA Number: 9815.00
Comments: The genus consists of some 31 species, of which 23 are European, 4 African and 4 from North America. One species reaches North Carolina and is found throughout the state. The genus is subdivided into two subgenera based on the form of the female genitalia. Our species belong to the subgenus Calymnia which has highly modified anal papillae and was recently reviewed (Lafontaine and Troubridge, 2003).
Species Status: Specimens from North Carolina have been barcoded and are similar to those from elsewhere; there is no evidence of sibling species. Although the two subgenera seem quite different based on the genitalia, barcoding places them together, supporting the current phylogeny.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Lafontaine and Troubridge, 2003Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Our species is smallish, about the size of many Lacinipolia species, with rounded and somewhat blunted forewings. The maculation is highly variable from a uniform pale yellow to a highly spotted orange-tan. The courses of the antemedial and postmedial lines form a triangle which is diagnostic. The lines are well separated on the costa but approach each other at the anal edge of the wing. Sexes are similar.
Adult Structural Features: In the male, our species has muted characters presenting valves with small bumps and projections. In other species, these features are more pronounced. The vesica has a single cornutus and prominent basal evagination. It is the female which has diagnostic genitalic characters for the anal papillae are highly modified and serrate while the base is expanded forming a setose cup around the papillae. The structure of the bursa is very compact with four elongate signa in the bursa copulatrix.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The green caterpillar is overlain with white spots and has a distinct white middorsal stripe. They hide in curled leaves or spin a shelter (Wagner et al, 2011).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: The distribution in the Coastal Plain is very spotty; abundant where found but in few places. Elsewhere, it occurs with more regularity but is seldom common.
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: There seems to be one principal flight period in the early summer and then stragglers in September.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records are predominantly from upland hardwood forests or from mixed stands where at least some hardwoods -- particularly oaks - are present. These range from mesic to dry, but we have no records from maritime forests or from stands of bottomland hardwoods. It also appears to be missing from Longleaf Pine savannas and flatwoods, where hardwood trees are generally absent. No records come from peatlands, which possess hardwood trees in some cases, but usually not oaks.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae are associated with oaks but which species is uncertain. They are famous for voraciously feeding on other caterpillars but can be reared on foliage alone.
Observation Methods: Adults respond to light but their response to bait or flowers seems to be unknown.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Oak-Hickory Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species presents a wonderful opportunity for additional study. Why are the female genitalia so modified, is it related to egg laying? Why do the caterpillars prey on other caterpillars, with but a single brood, there seems little pressure (unique to this species) to quickly pass through the larval stages? Are they cannibalistic? Do females select specific oak species, and do they utilize other plants? What limits their distribution in the Coastal Plain? Certainly this is a most interesting and little understood species. Nonetheless, its wide distribution and use of a broad range of habitats makes it seem secure within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Cosmia calami - American Dun-bar Moth

Photos: 28

Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-07-05
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-07-02
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-06
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-31
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-31
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-05-24
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-13
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-06-03
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-01
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-05-25
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-05-25
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-05-15
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-05-14
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-06-01
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2019-05-27
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-24
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-24
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-28
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Nancy Cowal on 2018-06-16
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Nancy Cowal on 2018-06-16
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2018-05-31
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2018-05-21
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2016-06-02
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf, B. Bockhahn, C.Mitchell on 2015-06-05
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2013-06-08
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-05-29
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-05-29
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2010-05-31
Warren Co.
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