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Family Noctuidae: Owlet moths

Diagnosis: Fw venation quadrifid (cubital stem appearing to have four veins originating along it; meta-thoracic tympanum present and oriented anteriad; hw Sc+R and Rs forming a small basal areole; abdomen or patagia never contrasting bright red or orange.

Diversity: Worldwide approximately 35,000 species placed in 4,200 genera, and at least 29 subfamilies; North America has at least 3,040 species in 23 subfamilies; 576 species have been documented from the Dakotas. There are more species of noctuid moths in North Dakota than resident bird species in America north of Mexico.

Checklist numbers: 8322- 9177, 9191- 11233.

Biology: Larvae occupy a large number of niches: external foliage feeders on trees, forbs, or grasses; subsurface cutworms, stem borers, bud feeders, fungivores, detritivores, or carnivores. Adults are often nectar feeders, but some species also utilize sap flows, rotting fruit, dung, tears, or blood. The common name of owlet comes from the light reflectance properties of their compound eyes. Many economically important species: Forage looper, Cabbage looper, Glassy cutworm, Corn earworm, Green fruitworm, Fall armyworm, Army cutworm, Armyworm, Black cutworm, etc.

Notes:  The classification presented here is that of Kitching and Rawlins (1999) with the following subfamilies recorded from North Dakota: Acontiinae, Acronictinae, Agaristinae, Amphipyrinae, Bryophilinae, Calpinae, Catocalinae, Condicinae, Cucullinae  Eustrotiinae, Euteliinae, Hadeninae, Heliothentinae, Herminiinae, Hypeninae, Noctuinae, Plusiinae, Psaphidinae, Raphiinae, Stiriinae, and Ufeinae. 
Recent molecular studies (Weller et al. 1994, Mitchell et al. 2000) indicate that the traditional Noctuidae may be a paraphyletic group: Plusiinae deserving family status and quadrifid noctuid subfamilies grouped with the Arctiidae and Lymantriidae.       

     See also:
Key to the subfamilies of North Dakota Noctuidae. 
Key to the Noctuinae of the Dakotas.
Key to the Plusiinae of the Dakotas.
Data for Noctuidae pictured on this web site.



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Further reading:

Barnes, William and James H. McDunnough. 1918. Illustrations of the North American species of the genus Catocala. Amer. Mus. Natr. Hist. Mem. (new series). 3(1): 3- 47.

Bordelon, Charles, Jr. and Ed Knudson. 1999. Noctuidae from Texas: The genus Melipotis and related or similar genera. News Lepid. Soc. 41(1): 31- 33.

Crumb S. E. 1955. The larvae of the Phalaenidae. U.S. Dept. Agric. Tech. Bull. 1135:  356 pp.

Eichlin, Thomas D. and Hugh B. Cunningham. 1978. The Plusiinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) of America north of Mexico, emphasizing genitalic and larval morphology. U. S. Dept. Agric. Res. Svc. Tech. Bull. 1567: 122 pp.

Ferguson, Douglas C. 1982. A revision of the genus Meropleon Dyar, with descriptions of a new species and subspecies (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Entomography. 1: 223- 235.

__________. 1988. New species and new nomenclature in the American Acronictinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). J. Res. Lepid. 26(1-4): 201- 218.

Forbes, William T. M. 1954. The Lepidoptera of New York and neighboring states. Part III, Noctuidae. Cornell Agric. Expt. Stat. Mem. 329: 433 pp.

Franclemont, John G. 1972. Notes on some species of North American Leucania with the description of a new species (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Hadeninae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 74(2): 141- 147.

__________. 1980. "Noctua c-nigrum" in eastern North America, the description of two new species of Xestia Hübner (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Noctuinae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 82: 576-586.

Godfrey, George L. 1972. A review and reclassification of larvae of the subfamily Hadeninae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) of America north of Mexico. U.S. Dept. Agric. Tech. Bull. 1450: 265 pp.

Groom, Robert A. 1959. Noctuidae of North Dakota. MS Thesis, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND. 147 pp.

Hardwick, David F. 1965. The corn earworm complex. Entomol. Soc. Can. Mem. 40:  246 pp.

__________. 1970. The genus Euxoa (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in North America. I. Subgenera Orosagrotis, Longivesica, Chorizagrotis, Pleonectopoda and Crassivesica. Entomol. Soc. Can. Mem. 67: 177 pp.

__________. 1973. A generic revision of the North American Heliothidinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Mem. Entomol. Soc. Can. 73: 59 pp.

__________. 1996. A monograph to the North American Heliothentinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Published by the author, Ottawa, Ontario. 281 pp.

Hardwick, David F. and L. P. Lefkovitch. 1973. Species separation in the Declarata group of the genus Euxoa, a computer analysis based on structural characters. Can. Entomol. 105:  501-508.

Hessel, Sidney A. 1954. A guide to collecting the plant-boring larvae of the genus Papaipema (Noctuidae). Lepid. News. 8: 57-63.

Kitching, Ian J. 1984. An historical review of the higher classification of the Noctudiae (Lepidoptera). Bull. Brit. Mus. Natr. Hist. (Ent.) 49(3): 153- 234.

Kitching, Ian J. and John E. Rawlins. Chapter 19 The Noctuoidea, pp. 355- 401 in Kristensen, Neils P. ed. 1999. Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies. Part 35, Vol. 1 in Handbook of Zoology. Maximilian Fischer ed. Walter de Gryter, New York. 491 pp.

Lafontaine, J. Donald. 1981. Classification and phylogeny of the Euxoa detersa group (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Quaest. Entomol. 17: 1-120.

__________. 1982. Biogeography of the genus Euxoa (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in North America. Can. Entomol. 114: 1-53.

__________. 1997. Fascicle 27.2 Noctuoidea Noctuidae (part) Euxoa. in Dominick et al. The moths of America north of Mexico. E. W. Classey Ltd. London. 237 pp.

__________. 1998. Fascicle 27.3 Noctuoidea: Noctuidae (part) Noctuinae (part) Noctuini in Dominick et al. The moths of America north of Mexico. E. W. Classey Ltd. London.  348 pp.

__________. 2004. Fascicle 27.1 Noctuoidea: Noctuidae (part) Noctuinae (part) Agrotini in Hodges, R. W. ed.  The moths of America north of Mexico. Wedge Entomological Foundation.  385 pp.

Lafontaine, J. Donald and J. R. Byers 1982. A revision of the comosa group of the genus Euxoa Hbn. (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), with descriptions of two new species. Can. Entomol. 114: 575-589.

Lafontaine, J. Donald and Robert W. Poole. 1991. Fascicle 25.1 Noctuoidea: Noctuidae (part) Plusiinae in Dominick et al. The moths of America north of Mexico. E. W. Classey Ltd. London. 182 pp.

Lafontaine, J. Donald and V. S. Kononenko. 1986. A revision of the genus Trichosilia Hampson (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) with descriptions of four new species. Can. Entomol. 118(11): 1079- 1113.

Leuschner, Ron. 1997. Day flying moths of the genus Annaphila Grote (Noctuidae). News Lepid. Soc. 39(3): 33, 34, 39.

McCabe, Timothy L. 1980. A reclassification of the Polia complex for North America (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). New York State Mus. Bull. 422: 141 pp.

McDaniel, B. and G. Fauske. 1981. The genus Catocala Schrank collected from four eastern South Dakota Counties. (Noctuidae: Catocalinae). J. Lep. Soc. 35(2): 94-100.

McDunnough, James H. 1948. A revision of the obliqua-metata group of the genus Zale (Lepidoptera: Phalaenidae). Can. Entomol. 75(8): 146- 158.

Metzler, Eric H. and John G. Franclemont. 1991. A review of four species names of Paectes from North America (Lepidoptera: Eutelinae). J. Lepid. Soc. 45(1): 34- 41. 

Mitchell, Andrew, Charles Mitter, and Jerome C. Regier.  2000.  More taxa or more characters revisited: combining data from nuclear protein-encoding genes for phylogenetic analyses of Noctuoidea (Insecta: Lepidoptera).  Syst. Biol.  49(2): 202- 224.

Mitter, Charles, Robert W. Poole, and Marcus Mathews. 1993. Biosystematics of the Heliothinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Ann. Rev. Entomol. 38: 207- 25.

Olivier, A. D. and Joan B. Chapin. 1981. Biology and illustrated keys for the identification of twenty species of economically important noctuid pests. Louisiana State Univer. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 733: 26 pp.

Pogue, Michael G.  2002.  A world revision of the genus Spodoptera Guenée (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae).  Mem. Amer. Entomol. Soc.  43: 202 pp.

Pool, Robert W. 1989. Lepidopterorum catalogus [new series]. Fascicle 118. Noctuidae. E. J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands. 3 vols: 1,314 pp.

__________. 1995. Fascicle 26.1 Noctuoidea Noctuidae (part) Cuculiinae, Stiriinae, Psaphidinae (part) in Dominick et al. The moths of America north of Mexico. E. W. Classey Ltd. London. 249 pp.

Poole, Robert W., Charles Mitter, and Milton Huettel. 1993. A revision and cladistic analysis of the Heliothis virescens species-group (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) with a preliminary morphometric analysis of Heliothis virescens. Miss. Agric. Forest. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bull. 185/ Miss. Entomol. Mus. 4: 51 pp.

Richards, Glenn A. Jr. 1939. A review of the North American species of the Phoberia-Melipotis-Drasteria group of moths (Lepidoptera: Phalaenidae). Entomol. Amer. (new series) 19(1): 1- 100.

Rings, Roy W. 1977. An illustrated field key to common cutworm, armyworm, and looper moths in the northcentral states. Ohio Agric. Res. & Dev. Center Res. Circ. 227: 60 pp.

Rings, Roy W., Eric H. Metzler, Fred J. Arnold, and David H. Harris. 1992. The Owlet moths of Ohio. Order Lepidoptera Family Noctuidae. Bull. Ohio Biol. Surv. 9(2): 219 pp.

Rings, Roy W. and G. J. Musick. 1976. A pictorial field key to armyworms and cutworms attacking corn in the northcentral states. Ohio Agric. Res. Dev. Center, Res. Circ. 221:  35 pp.

Rockburne, Eric W. and J. Donald Lafontaine. 1976. The cutworm moths of Ontario and Quebec. Can. Dept. Agric. Res. branch. publ. 1593: 164 pp.

Sargent, Theodore D. 1976. Legion of night. The underwing moths. Univ. Mass. Press, Amherst. 222 pp.

Scoble, Malcom J. 1992. The Higher Ditrysia, Chapter 12, pp. 290- 341 in The Lepidoptera: form, function, and diversity. Oxford Univ. press. 1982. 404 pp.

Todd, Eric L. 1982. The noctuid type material of John B. Smith (Lepidoptera). USDA Tech. Bull. 1645: 228 pp.

Todd, Eric L. and Robert W. Poole. 1980. Keys and illustrations for the armyworm moths of the noctuid genus Spodoptera Guenée from the Western Hemisphere. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 73(6): 722- 738.






Last updated: 02/06/07

Dr. Gerald M. Fauske
collection manager, NDSIRC
research specialist, NDSU
216 Hultz Hall
Fargo, ND 58105
E-Mail: Gerald.Fauske@ndsu.nodak.edu

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