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Hemileuca lucina or Hemileuca maia? - Hemileuca lucina

Hemileuca lucina or Hemileuca maia? - Hemileuca lucina
October Mt. State Forest, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA
July 20, 2013
Is it possible to tell which species this is, by how it looks, or by location?

Moved from Hemileuca.


This one is tough to say. Physical diagnostic features are generally unreliable in separating late instar Hemileuca lucina and H. maia because of the variation exhibited by H. maia. Host plant association is also not always a good diagnostic character for late instar individuals because both species will feed on a wide variety of hosts in the later instars.

The distribution of H. maia in Massachusetts is pretty well understood as per the work of the Mass Natural Heritage program(s), and I THINK H. maia is more restricted to the southeastern part of the state with one population in the center. Therefore, I would say this individual is probably H. lucina if it is coming from Berkshire County, but even then I am not positive if H. lucina has been previously reported there.

What would help with a more positive determination is information regarding the specific habitat in which this individual was found. If it was a ridge top with scrub oak, then it is more likely H. maia, if it was from a wetter location, i.e. a bog or fen, wet meadow, then I would side with H. lucina.

H. maia vs. H. lucina
It was found on a boardwalk in a bog. Thank you so much for all of that good information.

H. lucina seems all the more likely in such a location.


Wagner's book
Wagner notes that H. lucina feeds on meadowsweet in wet meadows/fens/powerline right of ways and spines seem to be shorter than H. maia and H. maia feeds mostly (sorta) on oaks. I don't know if that's helpful or not.

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