|scientific name Spartiniphaga panatela |
A small (approx 2.2-2.4 cm wingspan) light beige or tan moth. The usual noctuid spots and lines are reduced to a series of black dots where the antemedian and postmedian lines cross the veins. The most prominent marking is usually the dark smeared streak running outward along the median vein. The forewing beyond the postmedian line is often dark as well, and in pale specimens here is narrow black terminal line. The veins, especially on the outer third, are lined with white scales. The hindwings are light tan, with a faint median line, discal spot and a thin dark terminal line. Antennae are simple and the sexes are similar. The overall color can be quite variable, from darker brown to very light (as illustrated). Melanic specimens also occur. The illustrated specimen is from the CBIF Moths of Canada website.
Almost nothing is known of the life history. The adults are nocturnal and come to light, and there appears to be a single annual brood with the adults flying in early summer. The larval hosts are unknown, but other members of the genus are stem borers, and it has been postulated that panatela are also borers in the stem of a wetlands plant. The generic name Spartinaphaga translates as "Cordgrass eater", but does not imply that cordgrass is a host of panatela.
The larval hosts are unknown, but other members of the genus are stem borers, and it has been postulated that panatela are also borers in the stem of a wetlands plant. The generic name Spartinaphaga translates as "Cordgrass eater", but does not imply that cordgrass is a host of panatela.
An eastern species, ranging from the Maritimes west to the Rocky Mountains, south at least to New York, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. It is listed as rare in Ohio and Illinois. In Alberta it is known only from 3 Bowman specimens collected at Edmonton in the first half of the last century, and his listing it without details for Calgary. The dates are from June 23 to July 12. Panatela is found associated with wetlands.
This rather drab little moth looks more like a small geometrid than a noctuid. It is quite possibly more common that the few old records indicate. Marshy habitats where this species should be found have been poorly sampled in Alberta, owing in part to the masses of backswimmers, caddisflies and other aquatic insects that abound in these areas and tend to clog up the traps and the catch. In the Midwestern USA it is associated with remnant prairie wetlands, and is a species of conservation concern in several states.
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