Other Common Names
Red-cheeked Looper (larva)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Probole amicaria (Herrich-Schäffer, 1855)
Metrocampa amicaria Herrich-Schäffer, 1855
The genus Probole includes three species. As noted below in the Remarks, an unreviewed/unpublished works recommend lumping these species. Those findings are not universally accepted.
As of May 2017, all images of Probole should be placed in P. amicaria as tentative until a review of this genus is published.
all of North America except the western and eastern arctic (present in the central arctic - Northwest Territories)
adults fly from April to August
Covell (1984) indicated Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum
) as a larval host plant, a species confined to the southeastern states
. Considering the vast distribution of Probole amicaria
, the larvae must feed on different host plants in different geographic areas.
Click on an image to see a lifecycle:
UPDATE: Chris Schmidt (pers. comm. 5/29/2017) mentions, “… I’ve studied this messy group in eastern Canada and I believe that there are actually at least 2 and possibly 3 species involved. Yes, there is lots of phenotypic (including genitalia) variation and the barcode differences are small, but the variation is neither entirely geographic nor seasonal. I’ve taken a different approach in trying to figure out what is going on in that I’ve focused on several populations in eastern Ontario where multiple phenotypes occur in sympatry. The short answer is that there are (at least) two wing phenotypes that have significantly different (but overlapping) male genitalic structure, with both phenotype and genitalia correlated with different DNA haplotypes. It’s complicated…” It appears that no reviewed work by Tomom or any other author has lumped these species. - Steve Nanz (05/29/2017)
According to research comparing morphological, molecular, and developmental characters, and completed in 2004 by Timothy Tomon at Pennsylvania State University, there is only one species of Probole
in North America. "It is highly variable in pattern and color, exhibiting within-population polymorphism, sexual dimorphism, and between-brood polyphenism, as well as being geographically polytypic. It takes the name of P. amicaria
(commonly known as Friendly Probole), and includes the other two former species alienaria
." - online document in mid-2005, here
; URL is no longer working.
After revision and DNA work (among numerous other approaches) on the genus by Tim Tomon, it was determined that there is only a single Probole species in North America, and so they have been lumped under the senior name, amicaria. At this point, there is no longer any legitimately separate species of nepiasaria, alienaria or nyssaria. (This note has no citation.)
The full publication of his revision doesn't appear to be available yet, correspondence directly with Tim indicates the revision is official. There is this 2007 abstract of the research and forthcoming revision paper: http://esa.confex.com/esa/2007/techprogram/paper_31679.htm
; Which in part states,
"Molecular studies measured sequence divergence in the mitochondrial COI gene from various geographical regions, seasonal broods, and morphological types. Several morphological types were reared from isofemale cultures, indicating a lack of support for a classification that includes more than one species. COI sequence data show relatively low intrageneric divergence ( < 2.8%) when compared to other closely related geometrid moths, again indicating a lack of support for recognition of more than one species. As a result of these findings, the genus Probole is treated as containing a single, highly variable species, Probole amicaria (Herrich-Schäffer)."
According to E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum info, McGuffin (1987) and others treat alienaria as a form of amicaria, however, it is also stated that "... according to Handfield (1999), alienaria is a generalist feeder on deciduous shrubs while amicaria feeds only on species of dogwood (Cornus). There also appear to be differences in the male antennal structure among some populations, at least in eastern North America (Handfield 1999)."
Covell, p. 367, plate 53--species listed as P. nyssaria
and P. amicaria (1)
Herrich-Schäffer, 1855. Sammlung neuer oder wenig bekannter aussereuropäischer Schmetterlinge
. plate 64, fig. 361
McGuffin, W.C. 1987. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera) II. Subfamily Ennominae. 4. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 138: 1–181.
Miller, Macromoths of Northwest Forests and Woodlands
, #62--photo of adult (2)
Tomon, T.J. 2007. A Revision of the genus Probole Herrich-Schäffer (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Ten-Minute Papers, Section A. Systematics, Morphology and Evolution. Entomological Society of America. 1250
Wagner, Caterpillars of Eastern Forests
, p. 182--listed as P. alienaria
--photo of caterpillar, adult (3)