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rubroscapus/multifaria species complex

Ctenucha multifaria - Ctenucha Beautiful Red and Black Moth - Ctenucha rubroscapus Beautiful Red and Black Moth - Ctenucha rubroscapus Moth by the Ocean - Ctenucha multifaria Ctenucha multifaria? - Ctenucha multifaria Black and Vermilion, white trimed moth - Ctenucha multifaria Ctenucha rubroscapus Ctenucha rubroscapus/multifaria species complex (no taxon) - Ctenucha
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Erebidae
Subfamily Arctiinae (Tiger and Lichen Moths)
Tribe Arctiini (Tiger Moths)
Subtribe Ctenuchina
Genus Ctenucha
No Taxon rubroscapus/multifaria species complex
Identification
This "species complex" node on BugGuide was made because it's suspected by Arctiinae expert Chris Schmidt that the (long ago published) species C. multifaria and C. rubroscapus actually comprise a single (as yet unpublished, and thus "unofficial") species...see "Remarks" section below.
The characters traditionally used to differentiate the two species are:
  C. multifaria: entire costal margin of forewing with narrow white margin; Patagia entirely black/blue.
       
  C. rubroscapus: distal tip (only) of forewing and hindwing with narrow white margin; Patagia red with black/blue spots.
       
       _______________________________________________________________________________
Definition: Patagia = pair of small articulated plates, one on each side of the dorsum of the prothorax. The patagia are visible in front of the wing bases and mesonotum...and immediately behind the head. (Caution: They can be mistaken as the posterior portion of the head!)       _______________________________________________________________________________
[Note: If you're unclear on whether to place an image at the "species complex" node or the C. rubroscapus or C. multifaria nodes...see the comment here.]
Remarks
New Information! Quoted below in green is a comment from J.D. Roberts on 18 August, 2008:
I heard back from Chris Schmidt today, and the bottom line is that all the characteristics mentioned are not consistent enough to be reliable. And he states they may actually be variations of one species. DNA analysis is forthcoming to determine as such. Here is what Chris stated:
"Hi Jason - the taxonomy of this group needs some work; I suspect rubroscapus and multifaria are slight geographic variants of the same species. The supposed diagnostic diff's don't hold up in series of specimens (even from the same place), since the extent of the black on the patagia and white on the costa are both variable. I can find no diff's to reliably separate the two, although I suspect there would be subtle 'average' diff's between topotypical series."
Given that they are not distinguishable by appearance and cover the same general distribution, it may be best to lump rubroscapus/multifaria into a temporary species complex until the mtDNA analysis is presented and the systematics worked out.
More details on all this may be obtained by reading the entire comments thread under the post below:
Print References
Hampson, G.F. (1898). Catalogue of the Lepidoptera Phalaenae in the British Museum, Volume 1. pg. 529 (Read online here)
Holland, W. J. (1914). The butterfly book; a popular guide to a knowledge of the butterflies of North America. Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y., pg. 102 (Read online here)
Internet References
Hodges #8263: C. multifariaButterflies and Moths of North America has range map.
Hodges #8264: C. rubroscapusButterflies and Moths of North America