Pygarctia abdominalis Grote, 1871
Yellow-edged Pygarctia Moth
NatureServe Global Rank: G3
Virginia State Rank: S1S2
VA DGIF Tier: IV
Federal Legal Status: None
Virginia Legal Status: None
Description: The wingspan is 30-40 mm making it a medium-sized moth. It is grayish in color, with orange/yellow along the costa and inner margin of the forewing, as well as on the abdomen. Any densely hairy arctiine caterpillar on spurges along the Atlantic Coastal Plain would probably belong to this species.
Similar species: Pygarctia spraguei (Sprague's Pygarctia) is very similar except its red markings replace the yellow markings found in P. abdominalis.
North American Range: Southeastern Virginia to central Florida, west along the Gulf to east Texas.
VA Observations by Locality: Isle of Wight
Flight season and broods: There are probably two broods from about April to mid-August. Adults probably start to appear in the southern part of its range in late April.
Habitat and Food Plants: Larvae feed on milky-sapped plants, mostly in the Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) and Dogbane (Apolcynaceae) families. P. abdominalis also probably feeds on Carolina Ipecac (Euphorbia ipecacuanbae). Its favored habitat is sandhills, dry Coastal Plain, sandhill pinelands, and coastal strand communities.
Behavior and Ecology: Adults come to blacklights and mercury vapor lights.
Population trend and potential threats: A rare and poorly understood moth that has declined in most of its range.
Management practices: Much of this moth's habitat has been destroyed by development, silviculture, or agriculture. Inappropriate fire practices, such as complete burns, or lack of fire, are probably the most important threats. Most larvae would appear late enough in the spring to escape the exposure to BTK applied for gypsy moth outbreaks. Timbering would probably not affect this species, providing ground cover disturbance is minimal.
References: Covell, Charles V. Covell, Jr.; A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America; Special Publication No. 12; Virginia Museum of Natural History in association with the Smithsonian Institution; 1984, 2005. P. 74.
Moth Photographers Group at the Mississippi Entomological Museum at Mississippi State University. Web application at: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/large_map.php?hodges=8255 Accessed: 20Apr2013
Schweitzer, Dale F., Mino, Marc C., Wagner, David L. September 2011. Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FHTET-2011-01. Pp.300-302.
Schweitzer, Dale F., Mino, Marc C., Wagner, David L. September 2011. Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FHTET-2011-01. Pp. 421-425.
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, 600 E. Main St., 24th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219
This atlas was compiled
by the VA Natural Heritage Program with funds provided by the VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries through a state wildlife grant
from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Last Modified: Thursday, 07 March 2019, 09:48:31 PM