|scientific name Aspitates aberrata |
Widespread in Alberta in the Grasslands region, in open habitat in the Aspen parklands, and in low elevation grassland in the southern mountains; disjunct in the Peace River grasslands. Aberrata is replaced in the Boreal forest region by the closely related Aberrata taylori (Butler). Aberrata is found in relatively xeric ungrazed or lightly grazed grassland.
A medium-size (2.7–3.6 cm, females smaller than males) creamy white moth with a heavy dusting of brownish grey scales, heavier on the forewings. A faint but thick straight grey line runs across the outer third of the wing from the apex to lower margin. Discal dot faint to obsolete. Hindwing less heavily dusted with grey and with a prominent grey discal spot, in some specimens connected to the wing base by a straight grey line, and with a straight grey line crossing from the apex to the inner margin. The pattern is repeated but much stronger and darker on the ventral surface. Male antennae strongly bipectinate; female finely dentate. The adults of both subspecies and the genitalia of both sexes are illustrated by McGuffin. Aspitates taylori is similar but darker and more strongly marked, and is restricted to open boggy areas in the boreal forest region. There are also excellent characters in the genitalia of both sexes for separating the two species, including the illustrated single pronged aedeagus in males (double pronged in taylori).
There is a single annual brood, with adults from mid May through mid July, peaking in mid June and with the occasional specimen to mid August. Adults are nocturnal and most specimens have been collected at light, although they are easily flushed and consequently frequently collected by net during the day. The larvae are undescribed and the larval host or hosts are unknown. Larval hosts for European species of Aspitates include herbs in the genera Lotus, Thymus, and Potentilla.
A grasslands species with a rather restricted range. It is known only from northern Minnesota north and west across southern MB to western Alberta and the Peace River area of BC.
Both the genus and species names have appeared in the literature with different spellings (Aspilates and aberratus). It was also listed as a subspecies of Aspitates orciferaria (i.e. Bowman, 1951). Munroe (1963) separated Aspitates aberrata into two subspecies, with the larger and slightly darker populations in most of Alberta the nominate subspecies. He named the smaller and paler populations from eastern Alberta (Lloydminster area, Hanna and the Cypress Hills) SK and MB subspecies assiniboiarus. It is not uncommon for many animals to produce larger darker populations in the cooler mesic western parts of the Prairie Provinces, and smaller paler populations in the warmer and more xeric eastern areas. In the case of aberrata Alberta specimens vary considerably in appearance and there appears to be little justification for the application of more than one name.
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