little white lichen moth

(Clemensia albata)

little white lichen moth
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  Hodges #

8098

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Little white lichen moth, as the common name suggests, is a small moth. It occurs in the United States east of the Great Plains and on the West Coast, and across southern Canada. It is common in the eastern third of Minnesota, where it is at the western extent of its range, but absent in the remainder of the state. Adults are found from mid-July to early August in moist, mixed and deciduous forests and woodlands. Larvae feed on shield lichens growing on trees and large shrubs, or on green algae (Protococcus viridis) growing on those lichens, or both. They may be consuming lichen for the algae growing on it.

Adults are to ½ (9 to 13 mm) in length and have a to 1516 (16 to 24 mm) wingspan.

The forewings are broadly rounded on the outer margin. They are white and finely peppered and spotted with black and brown. They are crossed by six transverse lines that are mostly brown with black spots. From the wing base to the tip these are a basal line, an antemedial (AM) line, a median line, a postmedial (PM) line, a subterminal (ST) line, and a terminal line. The AM and median lines are usually distinct, the basal, PM and ST lines are usually obscure. The median line is wavy, appearing as a broad W crossing both wings. The terminal line is represented as a series of dashes. There are six black spots on the leading (costal) margin from the wing base to near the wing tip. Each spot is at the end of one of the transverse lines. There is a round spot (orbicular spot) in the median area and kidney-shaped spot (reniform spot) between the median line and PM line. The orbicular spot is a small black dot. The reniform spot is large and conspicuous. The upper half is black and crescent shaped, the lower half is gray or light brown and touches the ST line. The hindwing is white and light gray.

The antennae are slender and thread-like.

The caterpillar is dark green, mottled with black, white, and yellow, and has a thin white line above in the middle (middorsal). It has sparse hairs (setae) growing from bumps on each upper side (subdorsal) of each abdominal segment.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: to ½ (9 to 13 mm)

Wingspan: to 1516 (16 to 24 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist, mixed and deciduous forests and woodlands.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation per year: Mid-July to early August

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The pupa overwinters.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Most authors state that this moth feeds on tree lichens. However, a description published in 1981 (McCabe) reports it feeding on green algae (Protococcus viridis) and refusing lichens. Protococcus viridis grows on shield lichens on trees. The larvae may be consuming lichen for the algae growing on it.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

21, 24, 29, 30, 71, 72, 75, 82.

 
  12/17/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common in eastern Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Noctuoidea (noctuid moths)  
 

Family

Erebidae  
 

Subfamily

Arctiinae (tiger moths and lichen moths)  
 

Tribe

Lithosiini  
  Subtribe Cisthenina  
 

Genus

Clemensia  
       
 

In 2011 the family Arctiidae (tiger moths and lichen moths) was transferred to the family Erebidae mostly intact but demoted to a subfamily. The former subfamilies are now tribes, the former tribes now subtribes.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

little white lichen moth

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Antemedial (AM) line

A thin line separating the basal area and the median area of the forewing of Lepidoptera.

 

Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.

 

Orbicular spot

A circular spot or outline in the outer median area on the forewing of many moths.

 

Postmedial (PM) line

A thin line separating the median area and the postmedial area of the forewing of Lepidoptera.

 

Reniform spot

A kidney-shaped spot or outline in the outer median area on the forewing of many moths.

 

Seta

A stiff, hair-like process on the outer surface of an organism. In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses: The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae.

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Alfredo Colon
       
  little white lichen moth    
       
       
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Other Videos
 
  Little White Lichen Moth (Erebidae: Clemensia albata) on Wall
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Jul 12, 2011

Photographed at Fisher, Minnsota (12 July 2011). Thank you to Libby and Rick Avis (@Bugguide.net) for confirming the identity of this specimen!

   
       
       
       
       

 

Camcorder

         
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Alfredo Colon
8/9/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

little white lichen moth


 
         
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Created: 12/17/2020

Last Updated:

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