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c-nigrum/dolosa complex

Moth - Xestia Noctuidae: Xestia c-nigrum/dolosa complex - Xestia C-nigrum - Xestia Dart Moth - Xestia Xestia? - Xestia Xestia c-nigrum or dolosa - Xestia Black-letter Dart Moth - to me it looks mostly like dolsa - Xestia Dart sp? - Xestia
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
Subfamily Noctuinae (Cutworm or Dart Moths)
Tribe Noctuini
Subtribe Noctuina
Genus Xestia
No Taxon c-nigrum/dolosa complex
Other Common Names
Spotted Cutworm (larva of both species)
X. c-nigrum is called Setaceous Hebrew Character
X. dolosa is called Great Black-lettered Dart
wingspan 35-47 mm for the two species combined
forewing rosy-brown in male, blackish in female; black bar from AM line to reniform spot near costa interrupted by yellowish orbicular spot that widens toward costa; some individuals have black shading between reniform and orbicular spots; black blotch angles inward from costa at top of ST line
hindwing dirty white with grayish-brown shading, darker in female than in male
[adapted from description by Charles Covell]

The two species that make up this complex cannot be distinguished by their color or pattern. In The Owlet Moths of Ohio, Roy Rings writes: "The maculation of X. c-nigrum is identical to X. dolosa. The best way to separate the two species is by size. X. c-nigrum averages 6 mm (fore wing apex to apex) smaller than X. dolosa."
Another way to separate the two in some cases is by geographical range (see below)
X. dolosa ranges from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to Florida, west to Texas, north to North Dakota and Manitoba.
X. c-nigrum (sometimes listed under the synonym X. adela) ranges from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to Florida, west to California, north to Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Alaska. It is listed as X. adela in this South Carolina list, and occurs in every central and midwestern Canadian province but apparently has not been recorded from most central and southeastern states.
See Canadian distribution of both species here. The range of these two species overlaps in much of eastern North America.
X. c-nigrum also occurs throughout Eurasia, whereas X. dolosa is restricted to North America.
adults fly from May to October (two broods) in the south; July and August (one brood) in the north
larvae feed on leaves of apple, barley, clover, corn, maple, nettle, tobacco and other plants
Life Cycle
two generations per year in the south; one in the north
United States distribution maps of X. dolosa and X. c-nigrum were previously available at the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research site, but the information has not yet been transferred to the site; their X. c-nigrum and X. dolosa US distribution maps are currently blank, as of 2 Dec 2006.
The former USGS map for X. dolosa showed records from California and Oregon, but those were presumably erroneous records, as X. dolosa does not appear on the current list from California, and the 3 specimens in Oregon State's collection were not collected in Oregon. In Canada, the distribution list here indicates that X. dolosa does not occur west of Manitoba.
Print References
Rings, Roy W. et al. 1992. The Owlet Moths of Ohio.
Internet References
pinned adult and larva images of X. c-nigrum (P.E. Bellin and Bert Gustafsson, Swedish Museum of Natural History)
live adult images of X. c-nigrum and common name reference [Setaceous Hebrew Character] (Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa)
live adult image of X. c-nigrum and other info (Ian Kimber, UK Moths)
worldwide distribution of X. c-nigrum; PDF doc plus habitat and foodplants (J.D. Lafontaine and D.M. Wood, Butterflies and Moths of the Yukon)