Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 22 NC Records

Bellura densa (Walker, 1865) - Pickerelweed Borer

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: NoctuinaeTribe: ArzaminiP3 Number: 932518.00 MONA Number: 9526.00
Species Status: Genetic barcoding shows little difference between obliqua, densa, anoa, and brehmei. These species vary greatly in color and pattern with strong overlap between species; names are frequently intermixed in the clusters formed by barcoding. The larvae are supposedly separated by their host plants but otherwise the taxonomic distinctiveness of the members of this group is unclear. Where specimens conform to the descriptions given by Forbes and others, we assign them to the traditional species. More problematic individuals are placed in the generic account.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A small member of this complex; a winglength measurement is helpful in its identification. The ground color of the forewing is light reddish mixed with darker reddish brown (Forbes, 1954). Schmidt (MPG, accessed 07-21) describes densa as having a darker purplish tint overall. The basal area not paler than that the lighter portions of the outer wing and often has a pinkish overshading. The orbicular and reniform spots are orange; the orbicular is larger than in obliqua and the reniform is thicker. According to Schmidt (MPG, accessed 07-21), the angle formed by the reniform and the costa is closer to 90 degrees in densa and more oblique in obliqua. The hindwing may have a reddish tint in this species rather than the fuscous found in obliqua.
Wingspan: 30 mm in males (Forbes, 1954)
Adult Structural Features: The forewings are "stumpier" in densa than in obliqua (Forbes, 1954)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Distribution in North Carolina
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
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records come from a variety of wetland habitats including peatlands, bottomlands, marshes, and savannas
Larval Host Plants: Larvae feed on Pickerelweed and Water Hyacinth (Wagner et al., 2011)
See also Habitat Account for General Broadleaf Herbaceous 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.

 Photo Gallery for Bellura densa - Pickerelweed Borer

Photos: 6

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-10
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-07-10
Wake Co.
Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2020-07-18
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2020-07-18
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-07-05
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 2005-07-07
Carteret Co.