|scientific name Abagrotis alternata (Grt.)|
Open woodland, shrubby areas, gardens and orchards, etc.
Adults have been collected in Alberta in August.
A relatively large Abagrotis (3.8-4.3 cm wingspan). The forewings of males are dark red-brown, while those of females are usually lighter orange-brown. The markings consist of faint, doubled antemedian and postmedian lines, and a small oval orbicular and an elongate vertical reniform, both finely outlined in pale yellow-brown scales and at least partially filled with grey scales. The terminal area is usually paler and sharply defined from the remainder of the wing. The hindwings are dull brown-black with orange-brown fringe. The large size, dark red or orange-brown color and relatively complete pattern will separate alternata from the other Alberta species of Abagrotis. See also
Abagrotis placida and cupida.
Abagrotis alternata have a single annual brood, with adults appearing in late summer. The larvae have been described and illustrated by Rings (1971). They are climbing cutworms and general feeders on a range of plants. In eastern North America they occasionally become serious pests on vegetable crops and in particular fruit trees, where they damage buds and new growth. The young larvae overwinter, and are reported to feed on dead leaves during the winter in warmer areas, developing through several instars and switching to new growth when it appears in spring. The adults are attracted to both light and sugar baits.
Uncommon at the northwestern edge of their range in Alberta.
The larvae have been found feeding on a wide variety of trees, shrubs and herbs including cherry and plum (Prunus), strawberry (Fragaria), tomato, potato, cabbage and oak (Quercus sp.) (Rings, 1971).
An eastern species, occurring from New Brunswick west across southern Canada to western Alberta, south to Arizona, New Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. In Alberta it has been collected in the dryer southern part of the province, north to about Calgary and Dinosaur Provincial Park.
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