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Species Macaria sulphurea - Hodges#6283

Crambidae 01 - Macaria sulphurea - male Macaria sulphurea Macaria sulphurea - male Macaria sulphurea Speranza sulphurea - Macaria sulphurea - male
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 Geometroidea (Geometrid and Swallowtail Moths)
Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)
Subfamily Ennominae
Tribe Macariini
Genus Macaria
Species sulphurea (Macaria sulphurea - Hodges#6283)
Hodges Number
6283
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Speranza sulphurea (Packard, 1873)
Macaria sulphurea
Numbers
There are 50 species of the genus listed for America north of Mexico. (1)
Size
20-25mm
Identification
Rich cream-yellow with maroon brown markings, consisting of two to three wedge shaped spots along the forewing costa, prominent discal spots, and variable PM and submarginal lines. The forewing PM band is usually light and spotty, but always widens to a patch at the anal margin. Fringe entirely maroon-brown, unlike the similar M. occiduaria which has the dark forewing fringe restricted to the apex. Sexually dimorphic, females with slightly reduced wings, although not to the same extent as andersoni, simplex and occiduaria. Ferguson (1953) named the subspecies amboflava from western Canada (type locality Calgary) to describe our yellow populations, which are, according to Ferguson, quite distinct from the smaller, greyish eastern sulphurea. (AEC)
Range
Nova Scotia west to BC, south to California and South Dakota (McGuffin 1972; Fauske 2003).
Habitat
Prairie and parkland woods and shrubby habitats. (AEC)
Season
Flies in July and August, peaking in mid to late July. (AEC)
Food
Unknown in western North America. Larva feed on Vaccinium and Myrica gale in eastern North America (Ferguson 1953; Forbes 1948).
Life Cycle
The life history has not been recorded in detail. Mature larvae are light green with a slightly paler head and a cream dorsal and lateral stripe (Franklin 1907, cited in McGuffin 1972). In eastern North america this is a forest species associated with blueberry (Vaccinium) and sweet gale (Myrica gale). The western race prefers drier habitats, and is not found in association with these plants. The differences in adult size, colouration and habitat preferences between eastern and western populations suggests that they may be separate species. (AEC)
Remarks
Regarding sulphurea and amboflava, Ferguson states:

"Speranza sulphurea is a sexually dimorphic, eastern, bog-dwelling species, of which the male is nearly the color of Speranza argillacearia ["more nearly immaculate mouse gray"]. (MONA Fascicle 17.2, pg.82)

"Speranza amboflava is the obvious sister species of sulphurea, replacing the latter species in the West. It lacks the conspicuous sexual dimorphism of the eastern species; both sexes are bright yellow and closely resemble females of sulphurea, although usually larger." (MONA Fascicle 17.2, pg.84)

However, more current data than Ferguson (2008) does have sulphurea collected in the pacific northwest and there is a growing number of sequenced male individuals from that population that are quite yellow, and quite well marked. As more individuals of the two species are sequenced, we're finding that the external characteristics are less reliable than previously thought--or so it seems based on the genetic evidence. So distinguishing yellow individuals by photo in overlapping distribution locales may prove difficult or impossible at this time.
Internet References
Moth Photographers Group - Images of pinned adults
All-Leps - Images of pinned adults with map of sample collection points
Alberta Entomology Collection (AEC) - Description and Bio Info
CBIF - Images of pinned adults
Works Cited
1.The Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 17.2, Geometroidea, Geometridae, Ennominae.
Douglas C. Ferguson . 2008. The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation.