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actually comprise a single (as yet unpublished, and thus "unofficial") species...see "Remarks" section below.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:
: entire costal margin of forewing with narrow white margin; Patagia
: 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!)
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
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:
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