Cucullia laetifica Lintner
Diagnosis: Cucullia laetifica is a species of the south-central and southwestern United States and has been collected most commonly in shrubby desert and short grass prairie. The distribution of this species overlaps the ranges of several other members of the group. It is the only species of the group, however, with a light blotch commonly present in the median area of the forewing preceeding the interception of the postmedial line and anal dash. The light blotch is usually present, but may be absent in some specimens. The forewing also has a distinct steel blue tint to it. The methods for separating this species from dorsalis and speyeri in their areas of overlap have already been discussed. Cucullia laetifica occurs with lethe in eastern and central Texas. Cucullia lethe is lighter gray. The basal diverticulum of the male vesica is t-shaped in laetifica and both arms are of approximately equal shape. The two arms are approximately y-shaped in lethe and the lower arm is distinctly larger and broader than the upper. In addition a small outpocketing exists near the end of the denticulate band of the basal diverticulum in lethe. This outpocketing is absent in laetifica or greatly reduced. Cucullia laetifica overlaps the ranges of eccissica, charon, and styx in Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. Cucullia eccissica and charon are lighter and more uniformly colored than laetifica. Accurate identification depends on the male genitalia. There are three spines in the vesica of laetifica, but only two spines in eccissica. Cucullia styx is a uniform dark black grey. Both the right and left claspers of the male genitalia are more strongly developed in styx than in laetifica (compare the photos of the male genitalia). There are no apparent consistent genitalic differences between charon and laetifica. Wing length from base to apex: mean = 20.25 mm., standard deviation = 0.59 mm., n = 10.
Distribution: Cucullia laetifica occurs throughout Texas, westward through New Mexico and Arizona, and north to Colorado. The northern limit of its range in the east is in southern Kansas. There is little superficial variation in this species, although the color of the forewing fades badly in older specimens. There is the usual variation in the development of the claspers in the male genitalia.
Adults have been collected from May to September.
Identification Quality: Excellent
Larva: The larvae was described by Crumb (1956). Crumb based his description on a series of larvae reared by Dyar from The larvae are easily distinguised from speyeri. The yellow band in the ocellar region of the head is not connected to the yellow stripe along the frontal suture. The markings on the dorsum of the abdominal segments are different. The yellow markings in speyeri usually form annular yellow bands. In contrast the anterior yellow dorsal marking on each abdominal segment in laetifica is surrounded by black and does not extend toward the yellow of the subdorsal region. A distinctive v-shaped black mark is present within this anterior yellow patch.
Foodplants: Chrysothamnus (rabbitbush) (Asteraceae). Three adults in the USNM from Maverick County, Texas were reared from Baccharis neglecta (Asteraceae). Strangely enough there is a single specimen in the USNM supposedly reared from "English Ivy".
See diagnosis section at the top of this page