Moths of North Carolina
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Amolita Members:
73 NC Records

Amolita roseola Smith, 1903 - Pink Sedge Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931063.00 MONA Number: 9821.00
Comments: The genus Amolita is currently placed in the Erebidae in the tribe Ophiusini together with such dissimilar genera as Zale, Ophisma and Metria. Previously it was thought to be near Metalectra and it likely will be moved again. The genus consists of 12 described species from the New World, five are known from the U.S. and three are found in North Carolina. However, the uncertainty surrounding the generic placement descends to the species level as well, since many of our species appear to be complexes of multiple species. The genitalia of our population of roseola are also quite different from our other two species of Amolita, enough so to make one wonder whether this roseola has been correctly placed. However, it occurs in the same habitats and the pattern of maculation, other than being pink, is very like the other species.
Species Status: It appears that roseola consists of at least two cryptic species based on the the distribution of bar codes from specimens taken throughout its range, with specimens from North Carolina nesting within one of them.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Smith (1903); Forbes (1954)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-small, pale pinkish Sedge Moth. The ground color is yellowish-white, with a strong dusting of pink except along the veins. A somewhat darker band runs from the base to the cell and then upwards towards the apex, with another runs down from the apex through the subterminal area (Smith, 1903). Amolita fessa has a similar pattern but lacks the pink dusting. Sexes are similar in pattern but the female is larger and has fasciculate rather than bipectinate antennae.
Wingspan: 17-2 mm (Smith, 1903)
Adult Structural Features: Males have prismatic antennae in contrast to the other species where the antennae are pectinate (Smith, 1903; Forbes, 1954). The uncus is spatulate in roseola but emarginate in fessa and diamond-shaped in obliqua (Forbes, 1954)
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: A larva illustrated by Wagner et al. (2011) is fairly slender and two toned: lavender above and pale yellowish below the a narrow whitish subspiracular stripe.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: All of our records come from the southern part of the Outer Coastal Plain
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 appear to be two broods in the outer Coastal Plain centered in May and late August. A few specimens have been taken throughout the summer so a small third brood may also occur.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Virtually all of our records come from wet pine savannas, including several very wet clay savannas where marl occurs close to the surface. None come from sandhill habitats, including sandhill seeps where several species of Carex occur. We have one record from a wet ecotone between a pocosin and somewhat mesic flatwoods.
Larval Host Plants: In the Northeast, Wagner et al. (2011) identify the host plant as Carex pensylvanica. However, that species occurs in dry woodland habitats primarily in the mountains and straggling into the Piedmont of North Carolina, not the Outer Coastal Plain where all of our records for Amolita roseola come from. In the wet savanna habitats that roseola occupies, only a few species of Carex occur, of which C. striata is the most common and C. glaucescens also present. In the very wet clay savannas where at least a couple of our roseola populations occur, the rare Carex lutea is another possibility. We have no observations of larvae in North Carolina, however, and other species of wetland graminoids cannot be ruled out.
Observation Methods: All of our records come from blacklight traps, which appear to be quite effective in sampling this species. Adults can also be flushed from wet savannas and other sedge-filled sites during the day.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Wet, Sandy, Fire-maintained Herblands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: [W3]
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S2S3]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Based on the strong restriction of records to wet pine savannas, this species is a good candidate for listing as Significantly Rare in North Carolina. However, the fact that it uses other types of habitats, as well as different host plants, in other parts of its range suggest that more surveys need to be conducted in a wider array of sedge-rich habitats before any final conclusions about its status can be reached. DNA analysis also needs to be conducted on more populations to determine if the separate species that appear to exist within this complex differ in range, habitats, host plants, and -- consequently, conservation status.