Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFSaturniidae Members: 64 NC Records

Hemileuca maia (Drury, 1773) - Buck Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SaturniidaeSubfamily: HemileucinaeTribe: HemileuciniP3 Number: 890040.00 MONA Number: 7730.00
Comments: One of eighteen species that occur north of Mexico, most of which are western (Tuskes et al., 1996). Three species occur east of the Appalachians and only one is found in North Carolina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923), Ferguson (1971), Tuskes et al. (1996)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1923), Ferguson (1971), Covell (1984), Tuskes et al. (1996), Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The medium-large, black-and-white banded adults are unmistakeable. Other black-and-white moths are smaller and very few are flying in the late fall and early winter when adult Buck moths are out. The larvae are only likely to be confused with those of the Io moth, which also are covered with branched stinging spines.
Wingspan: 50-65 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Adult ID Requirements: Unmistakable and widely known.
Immatures and Development: Buck moth larvae are typically dark brown and covered with small white speckling, whereas Io larvae are usually green or orange brown in later instars. Although some Buck moth larvae have a broad pale lateral stripe, none have the white-and-red stripes typical of Io larvae.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Found in most areas of the state except the High Mountains, where the xeric oaks it feeds on are essentially absent. It has also not yet been recorded on the Outer Banks or other barrier islands.
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
Immature 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: Single-brooded, with just a single late fall/early winter flight
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is strongly associated with pine-oak barrens habitats in the Northeast (Wagner, 2005) and virtually all North Carolina records also come from dry-to-xeric oak woodlands. The majority come from sandhills habitats in the Coastal Plain and most of the rest from Piedmont monadnocks or from dry mountain ridges and slopes. Although we do not have any records from the Outer Banks or other barrer islands, this could be due to undersampling of larvae or adults during the late fall flight period. They are known to feed on Live oaks in Florida and the xeric habitats of the barrier islands would seem to be acceptable. Their sensitivity to salt-spray -- a major environmental factor on barrier islands -- is unknown, however.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous, feeding prmarily on xerophytic oaks, including Bear oak (Quercus ilicifolia), Live oak (Q. virginiana), Blackjack oak (Q. marilandica), and Dwarf chestnut oak (Q. prinoides) (Ferguson, 1971; Tuskes, et al., 1996). In North Carolina, it is also common on Turkey oak (Q. laevis) (Hall, pers. obs.). Other oaks or other plants may also be used when found in the same habitats as the xerophytic species normally used (Ferguson, 1971; Tuskes, et al., 1996; Wagner, 2005).
Observation Methods: Adults are diurnal and are usually seen only as they are flying through the woods on warm, sunny days in the late fall and early winter. They do not feed and consequently are not attracted to bait. Early instar larvae are gregarious and can be easy to locate (Tuskes, et al., 1996). Hall (pers. obs) has observed a number of late instar larvae in June along trails in the Uwharrie Mountains, apparently in the process of digging underground to pupate.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Dry-Xeric Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This species is a specialist on dry upland oak forests, which in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont have largely been converted to agricultural or silvicultural uses or utilized for development. It now appears to be restricted to areas where human exploitation has been limited: monadnocks and other steep ridges in the Piedmont and Mountains and areas of deep sand in the Coastal Plain. The largest populations, moreover, are associated with large tracts of these habitats located on public lands, including military bases such as Fort Bragg, and National Forests, including the Croatan, Uwharrie, Pisgah, and Nantahala. In the Northeast, this species has declined even more strongly, becoming extremely localized in Connecticut and other areas where it once was more widespread(Wagner, 2012). In addition to habitat loss, it may have been strongly affected by parasitism by a Tachinid fly, Compsilura concinnata, that was widely introduced in the Northeast to control Gypsy Moths and other pest Lepidoptera (Boettner et al., 2000). This fly represents a serious and pervasive threat for many species of moths and is suspected to be responsible for the marked declines in several Saturniids. While such impacts have not yet been documented in North Carolina, Compsilura has spread as far south as Virginia (Kellogg et al., 2003) and will probably continue to expand its range southward. The situation in North Carolina needs to be monitored.

 Photo Gallery for Hemileuca maia - Buck Moth

Photos: 28

Recorded by: David George on 2021-05-15
Person Co.
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Recorded by: J. A. Anderson on 2020-12-24
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: J. A. Anderson on 2020-12-24
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: H. Reynolds on 2020-12-04
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: Morgan Freese on 2020-04-27
Brunswick Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2019-12-10
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Jame Amoroso on 2019-06-01
Stokes Co.
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Recorded by: Hunter Phillips on 2019-05-28
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Virginia Holman on 2018-12-16
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Virginia Holman on 2018-12-16
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Virginia Holman on 2018-12-16
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Beane on 2018-12-02
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2017-12-19
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Beane on 2015-11-26
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: NEW on 2015-06-04
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Jason Brown on 2013-12-07
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Kevin Bischof on 2013-12-02
Burke Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2012-06-16
Rutherford Co.
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Recorded by: L. Amos on 2012-06-12
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: ASH, C. Bowers on 2012-05-31
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: SPH on 2011-06-07
Randolph Co.
Comment: Pre-pupal larvae seen digging into the ground on a trail
Recorded by: Krista Long on 2009-06-04
Stanly Co.
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Recorded by: Scott Hartley on 2006-11-26
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: ASH on 2006-05-28
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Scott Hartley on 2004-12-03
Moore Co.
Comment: WEWO - Fresh out of pupa - watched it crawl up twig and pump up wings. Used a side to side shaking motion perhaps to help unfurl wings as they were pumped full of fluid?
Recorded by: T. Howard on 1998-05-14
New Hanover Co.
Comment: CABE - caterpillars seen in different locations, all on oak.
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 1991-05-10
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 1991-05-10
Pender Co.
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