|scientific name Feltia jaculifera |
common name Dingy Cutworm
Open habitats, in particular native grasslands; also riparian edges, meadows, and other open areas.
Adults have been collected in Alberta from mid July through late September.
"Feltia jaculifera" is a complex of probably six or more sibling species, at least two of which occur in Alberta. Recent work (Byers et al,1990) has shown that two morphologically indistinguishable pheromonal phenotypes occur throughout the prairie provinces. They concluded that the pheromone system of this complex is rather plastic, resulting in a mosaic of pheromone types (sibling species) that appear to be reproductively isolated but have not differentiated morphologically. These cannot by separated to species using normal means. In spite of extensive studies "jaculifera" is still best treated as a single "species". Feltia jaculifera is a medium-size moth (3.5-4.0 cm wingspan) with dark forewings broken up by a pattern of pale longitudinal streaks and spots. There is a long thick black basal dash, which includes the claviform spot and is crossed by two narrow lines in the basal half. A pale median streak curves down at the anal and angle to meet the one running along the lower margin of the wing. The costa is also pale, and linked to the top of the pale reniform mad orbicular spots. The subterminal line is a series of pale streaks following the veins. The hindwings vary from white with light fuscous shading along the margin to mostly fuscous, but are usually dirty white with a broad diffuse darker margin. In Alberta most likely to be confused only with Feltia herilis (Grt.), which is darker and has a less complex and contrasting pattern.
Adults are mainly nocturnal and come to light, but in arid grasslands areas can be found nectaring and resting on composite flowers during the afternoon and evening as well. There is a single annual brood. Females will apparently only oviposit in flower heads, in particular those of the Asteraceae. Young larvae may have specific feeding requirements, but later instars are apparently rather general feeders on a variety of herbs and forbs. They overwinter as partially grown (third and fourth instar) larvae. The larvae and life history are described in detail in Lafontaine, 2004.
An abundant moth.
A wide variety of herbs including garden and field crops. See Lafontaine 2004 for references and problems with the published host information.
The complex occurs from eastern Alaska to the Maritimes, south long both coasts and into northern Mexico. It is most abundant in the open grasslands of the Great Plains and Great Basin.
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