Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Lycomorpha pholus (Drury, 1773)
Sphinx pholus Drury
* phylogenetic sequence #930201
Wingspan 25-32 mm (Scott, 2010); body length about 10 mm.
Forewing length 12-15 mm. (1)
Adult - body and wings bluish-black. Basal portion of wings yellow, orange, or red; distal portion of wings black. Amount of yellow/orange/red varies, according to published photos and illustrations.
Larva - gray dotted with pale green, sparse long hairs, resemble those of Hypoprepia
(Forbes, 1960; Dyar, 1897).
Eastern North America west to the Rockies, Alberta south to New Mexico. (1)
Mostly: June-Sept (Full: Apr-Oct). (2)
Larvae feed on lichens. The strictly diurnal adults are often found on flowers of dogbane (Adpocynum
, Apocynaceae), goldenbush (Ericameria
, Asteraceae) and goldenrod (Solidago
, Asteraceae). (1)
May take several years to develop, especially in the north. Hairy cocoons are attached to rocks or tree trunks near the former food source.
Central North American specimens are subspecies Lycomorpha pholus miniata and show red on the wings; eastern specimens of the nominate race have the red replaced by yellow (paraphrase of Gerald Fauske, Moths of North Dakota).
The red color pattern is thought to be mimicry of poisonous Lycid beetles, such as Calopteron
Another possibility is the Elderberry Borer.
See also the presumed model of the mimicry, the Lycid beetles of genus Calopteron
Covell Jr., C.V. 1984. A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Company. p.61, plate 11 #16 (3)
Drury, D. 1773. Illustrations of Natural History 3: 49
, pl.28 f.3
Dyar, H.G. 1897. The larva of Lycomorpha pholus
. Psyche 8: 82-83
Powell, J.A. & P.A. Opler 2009. Moths of Western North America. University of California Press. p.266, pl.46.29m (1)
Scott, C. 2010. Black and yellow lichen moth (suggested common name) Lycomorpha pholus
(Drury) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Arctiinae: Lithosiini). University of Florida EENY 479: 1-5, f.1-17 (PDF
distribution in Canada
list of provinces (U. of Alberta, using CBIF data)