Cucullia florea Guenée
Diagnosis: The three species Cucullia florea
Guenée, obscurior Smith, and postera Guenée
pose a real problem. Ignoring the taxon obscurior for the moment,
the identification of postera and florea is reasonably
straight forward. The two species are relatively easy to separate if series
of well prepared specimens are available. The forewing of florea
is uniformly gray with only indistinct patches of purple-brown along the
costa. The forewing of postera has distinct rusty red patches
along the costa from the orbicular mark toward the apex and in the inner
angle between the outer margin and the lower end of the postmedial line.
Cucullia postera also has a distinct light patch between the
reniform mark and the anal dash and the patch contrasts with the dark
costa. This patch is absent or indistinct in florea. The forewing
of postera has a much more striate or blotchy appearance overall
than florea. Cucullia postera appears to have a slightly
shorter forewing than florea, although available specimens have
been collected too non randomly to make statistical comparisons. The male
genitalia of both species are variable in every aspect, and I have not
found any completely consistent characters to separate postera,
florea, or obscurior. The basal process of the sacculus
is short and knob like in florea and longer in postera,
but only on average. The diverticulum bearing the single spine in the
vesica is a large double structure in both postera and florea,
with one lobe bearing the spine, and the other not. The spine in omissa
is borne on a small, single diverticulum. A small diverticulum from near
the origin of the tail of the vesica usually exists in florea;
this diverticulum is absent in postera but present in omissa.
A small diverticulum exists in postera just distal to the large
double diverticulum bearing the single large spine. This diverticulum
appears to be absent in florea. I have not found any differences
in the female genitalia between the three species.
Distribution: Cucullia florea ranges from the mountains of North Carolina and West Viriginia north through New York, New England, and into the Maritime provinces of Canada, Quebec, and Ontario. It extends across the plains provinces, dipping south as far as St. Paul, Minnesota and westward to British Columbia, and Washington. These localities seem to indicate florea is primarily a species of Canadian transitional or coniferous forest. Possibly postera is more adapted to open grassland, although this has not been verified by personal observation.
Adults have been collected from late June through August. The distribution of dates suggests a slightly later average flight period than that of omissa. There is no indication of differences in the flight periods of florea, postera, and obscurior.
Identification Quality: Excellent
Larva: The larvae of Cucullia florea and postera were described by Crumb (1956) under the name Cucullia postera race omissa. These reared specimens are not omissa but a mixture of both species from Washington. A general description of this mixed lot is similar to asteroides. However there are some significant differences. In particular the dorsal margin of each of the subdorsal bands is very dark and thin and sets off a distinctive dorsal region. The two thin lines between the subdorsal band and the spiracular region are almost absent, obscure at best. The thin, isolated subspiracular line found in asteroides is replaced by a distinct dark line margined ventrally by a wide reticulate brown band. The result is a distinctive yellow-green to green band between the spiracle and the subspiracular line followed by a brown band. Both of these features are absent in asteroides and montanae.
Foodplants: The recorded foodplants given by Crumb are aster (Aster sp.) and goldenrod (Solidago sp.) (Asteraceae). Specimens from Nova Scotia in the USNM were reared on Erigeron by D.C. Ferguson.
See diagnosis section at the top of the page