Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 23 NC Records

Pygarctia abdominalis Grote, 1871 - Yellow-edged Pygarctia Moth

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930430.00 MONA Number: 8255.00
Comments: One of nine members of this genus that occur in North America (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010), and the only one that has been recorded in North Carolina
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1960); Schweitzer et al. (2011)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Illustrated in Schweitzer et al. (2011) but detailed descriptions of the larvae appear to be lacking                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Coloration is similar to both Euchaetes egle and Pagara simplex, with wings predominantly gray and abdomen yellow or orange with a mid-dorsal row of black dots. However, both the costa and inner margin of the forewing is lined with yellow in P. abdominalis, unlike the other two whose wings are solidly gray. A good quality photograph showing the forewings should be sufficient to identify this species.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: From a photograph included in Schweitzer et al. (2011), larvae appear to be densely covered with long, soft, grayish-brown hair.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Restricted to the Coastal Plain, including the Fall-line Sandhills
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: Schweitzer et al. (2011) state that there are probably two broods over most of the range of this species. Our data indicate that adults are present throughout most of the growing season, possibly with three distinct flights.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: All of our records come from Longleaf Pine sandhills habitats, some very xeric
Larval Host Plants: Probably stenophagous, feeding solely on members of the Euphorbiaceae (Schweitzer et al., 2011). Ipecac (Euphorbia ipecacuanhae), other Spurges (Euphorbia sp.), and Tread-softly (Cnidoscolus stimulosus) are all possible hosts in its sandhill habitats.
Observation Methods: Appears to come at least moderately well to blacklights, with up to eight being collected in a single trap; also observed at building lights. None of our records come from bait.
See also Habitat Account for Xeric-Mesic Sand Barrens and Glades
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G3 S2S3
State Protection: Listed as Significantly Rare by the Natural Heritage Program. That designation, however, does not confer any legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Strongly associated with Longleaf Pine sandhills, a habitat that has undergone severe reduction over the past two hundred years. Populations in the New Jersey Pine Barrens appear to have been extirpated, possibly due to the effects of fire-suppression (Schweitzer et al., 2011). Without periodic fire, the low-growing forbs that they feed on can be easily swamped by taller vegetation or thick deposits of pine thatch. With increasing fragmentation of their habitats, making movement between habitat units increasingly difficult, the remnant small, isolated populations are highly vulnerable to irrevocable loss.

 Photo Gallery for Pygarctia abdominalis - Yellow-edged Pygarctia Moth

Photos: 4

Recorded by: M. Prinz on 2018-06-08
Moore Co.
Recorded by: M. Prinz on 2018-06-08
Moore Co.
Recorded by: NEW on 2012-05-15
Moore Co.
Recorded by: SPH on 2009-06-24
Richmond Co.
Comment: Male; wingspan = 3.2 cm; forewing length = 1.4 cm