Noctuidae - Amphipyrinae - Phosphilini



Phosphila turbulenta Hübner 1818

Phosphila turbulenta Hübner, 1818, Zuträge zur Sammlung exotischer Schmettlinge, 1:15, pl. [12], figs. 67,68.

Xylophasia arcuata Walker, 1857, List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum, 11:718.

Diagnosis: Phosphila turbulenta does not have any special external features to identify it. However its superficial appearance is fairly distinctive. The species is basically brown and has a shaggy, hairy appearance that makes it appear almost like a member of the family Notodontidae. The reniform spot in the forewing is a large, but not clearly marked patch and it has a darker line running through its basal half. The postmedial line is highly dentate and there is a dark brown streak in the tornal region running between the postmedial line and the outer margin. There is usually, but not always a white spot on the basel line of the forewing on the inner margin. The hindwing above has a broad dark band in the subterminal region and both the postmedial line and discal dot are clearly present.

Distribution: Phosphila turbulenta occurs in the eastern United States. In the east it occurs as far north as southern New York and as far south as the southern tip of Florida. The species is not known from the Antilles. The range stretches westward as far as Illinois in the north and eastern Texas in the south. The southwestern most extent of the its range seems to be in the Houston region. The species is considerably less common in collections than is Helioscota miselioides which otherwise has the same foodplants and basically the same range. This is not nearly as variable a species as Helioscota miselioides. Females tend to be larger than males on the average, but the size of individuals is also variable. The darkness of the brown color of the forewing is also variable. Some specimens are almost uniformly dark brown, but other individuals have outer third of the forewing distinctly lighter than the inner two-thirds. In some individuals the reniform spot is larger and more contrasting than in others. There is no apparent geographical variation in this species.

The adults fly from April to August in the north, with a gradual drift toward an earlier flight period as one goes southward. In Texas, for example, most adults have been taken in March and April. There is a single specimen collected in September and a fall brood possibly exists in this part of the United States.

Identification Quality: Excellent

Larva: The larvae have been described by Crumb (1956) and Beutenmuller (1888). Beutenmuller (1888) records the species from Smilax rotundifolia L. (Liliaceae) and there are several specimens in the USNM reared from Smilax. Beutenmuller also states that the larvae are gregarious on their foodplant. The larva is very distinctive. The group color of the abdomen is yellow or cream-yellow and is strongly striped with red lines. The head is solid black as is the posterior half of the cervical shield. The anterior half of the cervical shield is yellow with three forward projecting red lines. Abdominal segments 8-10 contrast with the rest of the abdomen. In this region the coloration is a lattice of yellow, rectangular areas surrounded by red. There is a triangular red spot on each of the abdominal prolegs.

Foodplants: Smilax rotundifolia (Liliaceae)


Phosphila turbulenta

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