Noctuidae - Cuculliinae



Cucullia speyeri Lintner

Cucullia speyeri Lintner, 1874, Entomological Contributions, no. 3:168, figs. 13,14.

Diagnosis: Cucullia speyeri is a light gray species with little or no definite forewing maculation. The male hindwing is white with only a thin dark brown border. The brown border is much wider in the female occupying from one third to one half of the hindwing. In both sexes, however, at least the base of the hindwing is white separating this species from Cucullia intermedia Speyer with its uniformly brown hindwing.

Cucullia speyeri is a widespread species occurring in the eastern United States and Canada, southern Canada, the midwestern United States, and the state of Washington. It overlaps the ranges of three other species; alfarata, laetifica, and dorsalis. Both speyeri and alfarata occur in the eastern United States, from New York to Virginia . Cucullia alfarata from this region appears to be more of a coastal species than speyeri. Males of speyeri and alfarata and speyeri are readily separated by differences in the male genitalia; there are two spines in the vesica of alfarata, but three in speyeri. Both speyeri and dorsalis occur in the eastern mountains of Colorado . The left clasper of speyeri is approximately the same size as the right, but the left is significantly smaller than the right in dorsalis (compare the photos of the male genitalia). These two species in this area of overlap are very similar. Mixed series of the two species, however, can usually be sorted fairly readily. Cucullia dorsalis is slightly darker than speyeri and the markings are more distinctly accented with black. In particular the anal dash is stronger in dorsalis than in speyeri.

The ranges of speyeri and laetifica overlap in southern Kansas and Oklahoma. Males of the two species can be separated by differences in the male genitalia. The left clasper of laetifica is much smaller than the right, but the claspers are of approximately equal size in speyeri. Cucullia laetifica usually has a dark, slightly bluish cast, but speyeri is uniformly light gray. Cucullia laetifica tends to have a light patch in the forewing median area where the postmedial line intercepts the anal dash. This light area is absent or poorly defined in speyeri. This light area is not always well developed in laetifica and the two species sometimes cannot be distinguished on superficial appearance alone. The closest relative of speyeri is probably Cucullia styx from southern Arizona and Mexico. Cucullia styx is a uniformly dark, black gray species. The male genitalia are slightly more massive and the claspers more strongly developed than in speyeri. The differences, however, are slight and apparently partly dependent on the size of the individual. I am treating styx and speyeri as distinct species because of the relatively great superficial differences in coloration and the large disjunctions in range and ecological province. Wing length from base to apex: mean = 21.95 mm., standard deviation = 1.07 mm., n = 10.

Distribution: Cucullia speyeri is primarily a species of the eastern and central United States and Canada. It occurs in the east from New England and southern Ontario south to southwestern Virginia. The species ranges throughout most of the midwest, south to Nebraska and southern Missouri. Cucullia speyeri occurs throughout southern Canada west to British Columbia and south into Washington. It has not yet been reported from Idaho, but undoubtedly lives there as well. There is little superficial variation in this species other than the hindwing sexual dimorphism. The male genitalia exhibit some geographical variation. The left valve tends to be narrower and the clasper of the left valve stronger in the western part of its range (from the Dakotas to Washington) than in the more eastern parts of its distribution.

Adults have been collected in May, June, July, and early August.

Identification Quality: Excellent

Larva: The larvae of this species has not been unequivocally described for this species. In the USNM there are larvae of this species from Illinois that have also been reared from Conyza canadensis (Horseweed) (Asteraceae). The general larval pattern is a complicated series of yellow markings on a black background. Dorsally each abdominal segment has two large, yellow triangles with extensions from the apices running forward and backward to the next segment or triangle and ventrally to the yellow subdorsal line. The dorsal triangles are extensively connected and the black occurs as isolated patches running in a dorsal-ventral direction. The subdorsal line is yellow and broken with the yellow running through the spiracular region to the subspiracular area cutting off irregular, isolated islands of black. Each proleg is black with a large yellow patch on the apex of the leg. The head is black with broad yellow markings on the frons, the frontal sutures, and a broad yellow stripe running from near the occiput to the ocellar region. This ocellar stripe is connected to the yellow stripe on the frontal suture. In contrast the ocellar stripe does not reach the frontal suture in laetifica. Crumb (1956) gives a description of this species as "Cucullia speyeri race dorsalis" from Washington. The single adult from this rearing is a female and, therefore, cannot be absolutely identified as speyeri or dorsalis. Superficially it most resembles speyeri. In Crumb's description the prolegs are described as all black, but in the larva of speyeri the legs have broad yellow apices.

Foodplants: Crumb reared this female from larvae found on Conyza canadensis (Asteraceae).

Cucullia speyeri

See diagnosis section at the top of this page

Similar Species

Cucullia dorsalis

Cucullia laetifica

Cuculla alfarata

Cucullia intermedia