|scientific name Abagrotis cupida Grote|
Most specimens have been found associated with dry sandy soils or arid clay badlands.
A medium-size (3.3-3.5 cm wingspan) moth with orange-brown or less commonly grey-brown or brown forewings, and dull black hindwings with light red-brown fringe. The small dark orbicular and more prominent dark reniform usually stands out against the ground. The lines, and in particular the antemedian and postmedian lines are doubled and indicated by an incomplete series of dark scales. The terminal area is the same color but lighter than the rest of the wing, and is usually separated from the rest of the wing by a dark shade or line. Some specimens are speckled with darker scales, especially on the basal half. Antennae simple. Sexes are alike except that females (as illustrated) have a wide, flattened abdomen. Similar to reddish forms of placida, but lacking the median shade crossing the forewing in placida, and with different genitalia. Specimens of trigona are usually smaller, have a shorter and more angular wing and are a lighter shade of orange. Some specimens of cupida may be nearly impossible to separate from similar forms of brunneipennis, but the later are usually a darker glossy red-brown color. Questionable specimens must be identified by genitalic characters. Adults and genitalia of both sexes are illustrated by Lafontaine (1998)
Adults are nocturnal and come to light. There is a single annual brood with adults in late summer. Adults have been collected in Alberta from early August through mid-September. The larva was described by Crumb (1956:117) under the name “Rynchagrotis cupida, western larva”. Reported larval hosts include willow and cultivated apple, grape and peach trees, with larvae reportedly causing damage to buds and new growth on the fruit trees (Rings et al, 1992).
Reported larval hosts include willow and cultivated apple, grape and peach trees.
Abagrotis cupida is frequently overlooked and misidentified as the more common A. placida. It is also very closely related to A. brunneipennis - both species bar-coding the same. Abagrotis brunneipennis is a bit larger, has a darker more glossy appearance, and the orbicular and reniform are less prominent and contrasting. In Alberta they appear to be separated by distribution and habitat as well, with cupida replaced in sandy areas in the cooler boreal forest and foothills regions by brunneipennis. Both species have been collected in the in the Redwater-Gibbons area north of Edmonton, with brunneipennis in pine forest on old sand dunes and cupida on dry eroding south-facing grassland slopes along the Sturgeon River.
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