little white lichen moth

(Clemensia albata)

               
Hodges #

8098

little white lichen moth

 

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common in eastern Minnesota

   
          Photo by Alfredo Colon
Flight/Season

One generation per year: Mid-July to early August

Habitat

Moist, mixed and deciduous forests and woodlands.

Size

Total Length: to ½ (9 to 13 mm)

Wingspan: to 1516 (16 to 24 mm)

 
 
Identification

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.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Larval Food

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

 

 
Life Cycle

The pupa overwinters.

 
Behavior

 

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

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

 
Comments

 

 
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!

   
       
       
       
       

 

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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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