Other Common Names
Crocus Geometer (X. sospeta)
False Crocus Geometer (X. urticaria)
Buttercup Moth (X. urticaria)
Rufous Geometer (X. rufaria)
Where is the accent placed? Is it "zan-THO-tip-ee" or "zan-tho-TIP-ee"? [RM]
Explanation of Names
Author of genus is Warren, 1894. Xantho is from a Greek word for yellow. (Based on Internet searches.)
I'm unclear of the meaning of the suffix "type".
5 species in North America
Wingspan approximately 30-50 mm (varies by species)
Adults: large, yellow, with reddish/purple dots. Species identification not possible with certainty, except by genitalic examination. Covell (1)
states that X. urticaria
has heavier spotting than X. sospeta
; Rindge states that adults of all species in this genus are, for practical purposes, externally indistinguishable from one another (see Remarks section below).
Larvae: greenish-brown twig mimics, resting with body fully extended, like twigs on a branch
Represented throughout United States and southern Canada.
False Crocus Geometer (X. urticaria) [Hodges # 6740], and Crocus Geometer (X. sospeta) [Hodges # 6743], are widespread in east, sospeta ranging farther south than urticaria.
Rufous geometer (X. rufaria) [Hodges # 6742], is found in the southeastern states.
In the east, urticaria occurs throughout Virginia, and further north, and then follows the mountains through NC, SC, to GA; also occurs west through Oklahoma to Arizona.
In the east, sospeta
occurs throughout Pennsylvania, and further north, and then follows the mountains south to GA. Also recorded from Florida
, and in the west to Colorado and Montana.
In Canada, X. sospeta and X. urticaria occur from Nova Scotia to Alberta, with X. sospeta also occurring in British Columbia.
X. rufaria is a southern species; it gets as far north as coastal NC and then follows the coast to Florida and Mississippi. The dot on his map in the mountains of NC seems odd compared with the other dots for this species. It is a specimen from Stone Mountain State Park, Wilkes and Allegheny counties.
In the east, attenuaria gets as far north as coastal NC and extends across Georgia (Atlanta) to eastern Texas.
X. barnesi is found only in northern California. (Rindge 1978)
Mixed and deciduous forests; adults are nocturnal and come to light, but are also active during the day and are easily flushed from shrubs in the forest understory.
Adults fly from April to November in the south; June to August in Quebec; June and July in Alberta.
Larvae feed on a variety of trees, shrubs, forbs. Handfield lists 20 genera of plants for X. sospeta; 11 for X. urticaria, with 7 genera shared by both.
Rindge (1978) examined 1,886 specimens (1441 males, 445 females) and made 261 genitalic dissections. He stated: "No one has found a reliable way to recognize the species as yet except by genitalia. The adults of all species in this genus are, for practical purposes, externally indistinguishable from one another, as they are almost identical in color, maculation, and size."
Range can be useful in some cases.
Worthy of note: Work done by Jeremy DeWaard shows that DNA barcodes for urticaria and sospeta are identical. The two species appear to be inseparable by COI sequence data, as is the case with many closely related species studied in this paper. Some have suggested that these two are a single species because of the DNA similarity, however, no revision has been published to date reflecting this, and the two are consistently different in the shape of the aedeagus, and the phenologies are different in many areas where the ranges overlap.
(Authors: Jeremy DeWaard; Paul Hebert [at BOLD
and chair of iBOL initiative])
Rindge, F.H. 1978. A revision of the moth genus Xanthotype
(Lepidoptera, Geometridae). American Museum Novitates
2659. pp.1-24, 43 figs, 3 maps. (2)