Noctuidae - Cuculliinae



Cucullia florea Guenée

Cucullia florea Guenée, 1852, in Boisduval and Guenée, Histoire Naturelle des Insectes. Species General des Lépidoptéres, 6:134, pl. 7, fig. 9.

Cucullia indicta Smith, 1904, Canad. Ent., 36:154.

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.

The situation between florea and obscurior is not so clear. Cucullia obscurior has been treated as a "subspecies" of florea and, indeed, it may yet prove to be. Superficially obscurior is generally lighter gray than florea. The forewing costa of obscurior lacks any hint of the rusty or purple-brown tinge present in florea. The ranges of the two species are largely allopatric, suggesting that obscurior may only be a subspecies of florea. However there are two apparent areas of overlap between florea and obscurior. The first spot is in central Washington in the general vicinity of Mt. Rainier based on reared material collected by Crumb. There are two very distinct entities in this region, one a perfect florea type with a strong purple tinge and a second light gray entity lacking any hint of purple in the color of the forewing. The second locality is the Provo region of north-central Utah. The two types are distinct and easily separated at this locality. Unfortunately the specimens I have identified as obscurior at most other localities are darker than type-2 specimens from these two localities, and considerable variation exists. This situation is particularly true in Colorado and North Dakota. Both states have specimens that cannot be reliably assigned to either species. There are specimens from Bottineau County in northern North Dakota that should be florea on biogeographical grounds but are superficially most like obscurior. The North Dakota specimens have been marked as florea and the specimens from Colorado as obscurior in the range map. The diverticulum of the vesica from near the origin of the tail of the vesica seems to be absent in what I am treating as obscurior, but present in florea. However I am very reluctant to list this as a firm character. I am treating the two names florea and obscurior as separate, largely allopatric, species, for the moment, but postulate that a case of incomplete speciation exists. This is only a hypothesis and resolution of the status of obscurior versus florea remains incomplete. Wing length from base to apex: mean = 22.56 mm., standard deviation = 0.73 mm., n = 10.

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.


Cucullia florea

See diagnosis section at the top of the page

Similar Species

Cucullia postera

Cucullia obscurior

Cucullia omissa

Cucullia asteroides