Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Anarta trifolii (Hufnagel, 1766)
Phalaena trifolii Hufnagel, 1766
* phylogenetic sequence #932826
Explanation of Names
TRIFOLII: probably a reference to the clover genus Trifolium, one of the larval food plants
Wingspan 30-40 mm (Covell, 1984).(1)
Forewing length 14-16 mm (Powell & Opler, 2009).(2)
Larva less than 3.5 cm (Wagner et al. 2011).(3)
Adult - forewing yellowish-brown to grayish; lines double, indistinct; most conspicuous markings are dark shading in lower half of reniform spot, and large W shape near middle of whitish subterminal line [described by Covell as "1-3 thin sharp wedges pointing inward from ST line"]; orbicular spot almost circular; claviform spot cone-shaped (may be dark in some specimens, pale in others); hindwing dirty whitish with blackish outer margin except for whitish patch at anal angle [adapted from description by Charles Covell].
Larva - body light green with dorsolateral line consisting of series of short dark streaks; ventrolateral line pinkish with dark spot in middle of each segment. Wagner describes it as having "endless varieties".
Throughout North America, including the far north (Alaska to Northwest Territories); may be absent from some southeastern states (e.g. South Carolina) but is recorded from Florida(4)
. Occurs worldwide in temperate zones.
Adults fly from May to October in the south, with presumably a much-restricted season in the far north (July and August?). Larvae present from June to September.
Larvae feed on more than 30 species of woody and herbaceous plants, including clover, several garden vegetables, sow-thistle, several plants in the mustard family, pigweed, lambs-quarters, various other weeds, elm, poplar.
Overwinters as a pupa in the soil; eggs laid singly on underside of leaves in late spring and summer; newly-hatched caterpillars feed on underside of lower leaves, gradually moving up plant as they mature, causing damage during late June through early July and again from mid August through September; mature caterpillars burrow into topsoil to pupate.
Life cycle images:
eggs; newly hatched larva; older larvae; older larvae and pupa; adult
Recent observations on several European web sites suggest this species is becoming less common in the old world.
In the west, the most similar Discestra
species is probably The Mutant
), which has a more oblong orbicular spot and its forewing is more brownish/less yellowish (compare images
of both species at CBIF)
In the east, Apamea devastator
(Glassy Cutworm) is similar but lacks the W shape in the subterminal line (compare images
of both species at CBIF); also see Euxoa detersa
Caterpillar like the Verbena moth
) (Wagner et al. 2001)
Covell Jr., C. V. 1984. A field guide to moths of eastern North America. p.99, pl.21(3)
Powell, J. A. & P. A. Opler 2009. Moths of Western North America. University of California Press. pl.55.18m, p.302
Wagner, D. L., D. F. Schweitzer, J. B. Sullivan & R. C. Reardon 2011. Owlet caterpillars of eastern North America. Princeton University Press. p.491 (3)
distribution in Canada
list of provinces and territories (U. of Alberta, using CBIF data)