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Identification key to the Noctuinae occurring in the Dakotas

     The subfamily Noctuinae is distinguished from other subfamilies of the Noctuidae by the following combination of characters:  hindwing venation trifid rather than quadrifid (1), eyes almost always without hair (2), eyes without lashes anterior to antennae (3), fore and hind tibiae usually, and mid tibiae always with spine-like setae (4).   


trifid ventral hindwing     quadrifid ventral hindwing

trifid         quadrifid


smooth eye         eye with hair  
eye smooth     eye with hair

eye, lashes absent     eye, lashes present

lashes absent     lashes present



lateral view of variegated cutworm moth     tibiae with setae

tibiae with spines


    Members of three additional subfamilies, share some of these characters.  Many Cucullinae sensu lato  and Hadeninae: Xylenini, have setose tibiae.  In these groups the setae are usually widely and somewhat irregularly spaced rather than more evenly spaced within rows as in the Noctuinae.  Most of the species with setose tibiae also possess eye hair or lashes.  A few arctic or high altitude noctuines may possess these eye characters as well.  Identification is not classification and characters from all life history stages as well as DNA evidence is used in classification.   



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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

Published by the Department of Entomology 

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