Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
First described in 1773 by Dru Drury
under the name Spilosoma nais
Explanation of Names
Nais (Ναις) is a name in Greek mythology for the Naiads, or water nymphs (sometimes used for nymphs, in general), and also the name of several wives or mothers of various mortals and immortals. Since Drury's description doesn't explain the name, it may not be possible to tell which one he had in mind.
Larger than other Apantesis spp. Has black spots in median area of HW. HW is usually reddish, as in A. phalerata and A. vittata, but is frequently yellow. HW is red in some female specimens.
Quebec and Maine south perhaps as far as northern Florida, west to Texas and South Dakota
April to October, but most seen in June and August
Caterpillars feed on grasses, violets, plantain, clover, and other plants.
There is no 100% consistent diagnostic characteristic in wing maculation or spots/no spots on the patagia (the "collar"), to reliably distinguish nais/carlotta/phalerata/vittata. The only full-proof method is dissection and examination of genitalia (the exception is in male phalerata, in which the valve is easily distinguished by its longer, up-curved apex. So one could brush the scales away from the last sternite and see it without dissection. The nais/carlotta/vittata group have rather blunt and rounded apices of the valve.)
However, within this group, using the sum of typical (although not necessarily diagnostic) characteristics, can allow for a reasonably probable species ID.
-- J.D. Roberts
Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America by Charles V. Covell, Jr.