|scientific name Schizura unicornis |
common name Variegated Prominent, Unicorn Caterpillar Moth
Deciduous woodland and shrub.
Adults late May to August and larvae June through August.
A medium-size (2.4-3.5 cm wingspan) maroon and purple-grey moth, with pale greenish patches in fresh specimens. The pale green or whitish basal area bordered by a doubled black antemedian line on the forewing is diagnostic. The reniform spot is a prominent thin vertical black bar, and there are usually two small white wedges on the lower edge of the forewing margin, a black sub-apical mark on the costa, and small black spots or wedges in the subterminal area. The hindwing is dirty white shaded with grey in males, darker grey in females. The male antennae are moderately pectinate to the mid-point, then abruptly simple. The most common and widespread member of the genus.
See also Schizura leptinoides and S. ipomoeae.
Adults have a very extended emergence, or perhaps overlapping broods, beginning in late May. Larvae appear in late June and both stages can be found until August, larvae into September. The larvae are solitary defoliators of a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs. They overwinter as pupae. The caterpillars in this genus are unusual in that they can eject a stream of formic acid for up to several inches from a gland in the hump.
A fairly common, widespread species; no concerns.
No Alberta data available. Elsewhere reported to utilize a wide variety of deciduous trees and shrubs. Canadian records (Prentice et al, 1962) show a strong preference for white birch (Betula papyrifera) and willows (Salix sp.).
Nova Scotia to BC, south to Florida, Texas and Utah. Found throughout Alberta, from the Precambrian Shield north of Lake Athabasca to the river valleys of the arid plains.
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