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Species Page - Oncocnemis saundersiana
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scientific name    Oncocnemis saundersiana    

common name     Saunders' Oncocnemis

It frequents dry prairie meadows with Penstemon.

A medium-size (approx. 3 cm wingspan) moth with a strong pattern. The forewings are light grey with a slight pink or blue tinge. There is a wide darker median band containing a narrow black band. The median band is bordered by doubled antemedian and postmedian lines, and contains the reniform, orbicular and claviforn spots, all outlined in black and the orbicular with a large black pupil. The pale subterminal area has a series of black arrowhead shaped dashes and a dark terminal band and fringe. The hindwings are brownish grey with a faint antemedian and median line, shading into a broad dark terminal band with a light grey fringe. The color and pattern combination is unique for Alberta moths.

life history
Adults are nocturnal and come to light. There is a single annual brood with mature larvae in early summer and adults in late summer; the Alberta specimens were collected August 22 and September 9. The only known larval host is Penstemon sp., including both P. hirsuta & P.digitalis (LepSoc). The larvae have been reared and described by Wagner et al as follows: “Interestingly the larva is able to take on the color of the Penstemon flowers on which it feeds. The match is so close as to suggest the caterpillar is able to transport the flower pigments from its gut to the extremity of its body, although we know of no physiological mechanism that would allow this to be so. The larva tunnels underground to pupate and stays in its cell through the summer. The adults fly in late August and September, and presumably oviposit on the largely senescent plants--the egg overwinters…” (Wagner et al, unpub.).

Southern Canada from eastern Ontario west to central Alberta; south to MI, IL, MO and FL.

Like Oncocnemis viriditincta, saundersiana has an eastern and southeastern distribution, unusual for Oncocnemis. The two Alberta specimens were collected, in 2001 and 2002 by C.D. Bird at the Buffalo Lake Conservation Area north of Stettler, the same site where he collected O. viriditincta. The adult specimen illustrated above is from Ontario (UASM collection).

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Specimen Info
There are 38 specimens of this species in the online database
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Specimen List (38)
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