Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 70 NC Records

Amolita obliqua Smith, 1903 - Oblique Grass Moth

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: OphiusiniP3 Number: 931061.00 MONA Number: 9819.00
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.
Species Status: Specimens from North Carolina have been barcoded and together with specimens from Florida and coastal Alabama appear to form a homogeneous cluster indicative of a single species. Specimens from the western part of the state are probably misidentifications and more specimens need to be dissected to determine if obliqua actually occurs in the western Piedmont or Mountains.
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Smith (1903); Forbes (1954)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Amolita obliqua is a medium-small, pale cream Erebid with two oblique lines in the outer part of the forewing. The head, thorax, and ground color of the forewings is yellowish cream (Smith, 1903), frequently flushed or shaded with pink or reddish, but not as extensively and evenly as in roseola. A dark fuscous stripe runs from the apex down to the inner margin, followed by an outer line that extends down from the outer margin below the apex, curving inward before the inner margin. A diffuse dark shade may also extend out from the base, as in Amolita fessa, but usually either crosses the inner oblique line or only weakly joins it, not forming an even upward curve as in fessa (Smith, 1903). The orbicular and reniform spots are represented by dark dots on the forewings. The hindwings are paler yellowish and immaculate. Sexes similar in pattern but the female is larger. In most cases, the parallel, oblique lines -- often shaded with red -- should distinguish this species from Amolita fessa, but specimens that have a smooth join between the basal line and the inner oblique line, with little extension of the oblique line below the join, should probably be dissected to determine their identity.
Wingspan: 20-25 mm (Smith, 1903)
Adult Structural Features: Very like A. fessa but males with longer antennal pectinations; female have fasciculate antennae. The uncus is expanded below its tip (not so in the other two species) and the valve tip is bifurcate but not with an “elbow” as in A. fessa.
Structural photos
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: A larva of a Floridian specimen of obliqua described by Franclemont (in Forbes, 1954) was slender, had only two pairs of prolegs, and a roughly granulated integument. The color of the body was pale whitish (clay color), finely striated with pale brown and heavier, double, pale-filled dorsal, addorsal, subdorsal, and lateral lines (see Forbes for additional details).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This species appears to be more confined to the Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont than Amolita fessa. Mis-identifications could be clouding range differences and specimens of this genus from the western Piedmont and Mountains need to be verified by dissection or barcoding.
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: The phenology appears to be the same as for the other two species in the Coastal Plain, with two distinct flights
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records for Amolita obliqua come from a wide variety of wetland habitats, including swamp forests and bottomlands; wet pine savannas and sandhill seeps; and shallow impoundments, including interdune ponds on barrier islands, beaver ponds, and reservoir shorelines. This range of habitats is very similar to that of Amolita fessa and the two species are often found together. Obliqua, however, seems to be much more prevalent in open savanna and seepage habitats associated with Longleaf and Pond Pines. At least a few of our records appear to be associated with pocosins and other peatlands, where fessa appears to be absent.
Larval Host Plants: The Florida specimen described by Franclemont was reported as feeding on grass, but it is not clear if it was reared in captivity or found in the wild. Species of graminoids are the more likely host plants, but Carex and other sedges are usually more prevalent in the habitats where this species has been recorded than grasses.
Observation Methods: Adults readily come to light and can be flushed from wet savannas and other sedge-filled sites during the day.
See also Habitat Account for General Sedge, Grass, and Rush Mires
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: Amolita obliqua appears to be somewhat more specialized in its habitats than A. fessa, but far less so than A. roseola, and occupies a much wider range in the state. Consequently, it appears to be fairly secure.

 Photo Gallery for Amolita obliqua - Oblique Grass Moth

Photos: 13

Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-05-20
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-19
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-05-16
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-08-24
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-10-08
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2017-10-08
Pender Co.
Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2016-05-12
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: T. DeSantis on 2015-08-20
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2015-05-31
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Jason Brown on 2014-08-24
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-05-21
Dare Co.
Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-05-10
Dare Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger on 2011-08-05
Wake Co.
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