This is one of the moths that I found hanging out in the hot tub area that I talk about in 3rd Night of Moth Week. At first I thought it was too worn to identify, but then I noticed how uniform the scales were and that this is just how it looks. It’s ironic that this Noctuid turned out to be very easy to identify with such a simple pattern, but the 3 dots and uniform background is diagnostic for this species.
Description– “Forewing length 16-18 mm…Adult: forewing highly reflective and uniformly dark grayish-brown with triangular pattern of three black spots near middle of wing; hindwing whitish at base, shading gradually to medium brown at outer margin” Species Amphipyra tragopoginis – Mouse Moth – Hodges#9639 – BugGuide.Net
Similar species– “This species is similar to a few other dark brown moths in size and wing-shape. None of these has the simple pattern of black dots at the ordinary spots.” PNW Moths | Amphipyra tragopoginis
Habitat– “This species is widely distributed across Canada and the Pacific Northwest in moist, open habitats, including meadows in riparian zones along creeks and rivers, agricultural areas, and disturbed urban areas. It is particularly common at low elevations west of the Cascades, but tends to be rare and sporadic east of the Cascades outside of agricultural or urban areas.” PNW Moths | Amphipyra tragopoginis
Range– “This species has a Holarctic distribution and might have been introduced into North America from Europe (Forbes 1954). In North America is occurs in the East from southern Canada to Pennsylvania and West Virginia west to the Mississippi. In the West it has been found in the southern halves of Alberta and British Columbia south to northern California…Amphipyra tragopoginis is found in a variety of habitats across our region as far north as the southern third of British Columbia. It is most common in forests and occurs on both sides of the Cascades. It is less common in dry steppe but has been found in developed and riparian areas in the Columbia Basin.” PNW Moths | Amphipyra tragopoginis
Eats– “The larvae feed on flowers, seeds, and leaves of Oyster Plant and Goat’s-beard (Tragopogon spp.) plus columbine, dogbane, geranium, hawthorn, plantain, and a number of other low plants.” Species Amphipyra tragopoginis – Mouse Moth – Hodges#9639 – BugGuide.Net
Eaten by-Presumably a host for parasitoids in Hymenoptera and Diptera, and probably preyed upon by insectivores of all classes, but I can find nothing specific for this species.
Adults active– “The adults of A. tragopoginis fly in late summer and early fall. They have been collected from late June through to October in our area, but are most common in late July and early August. This species is nocturnal and comes to lights.” PNW Moths | Amphipyra tragopoginis
Life cycle– It appears this species is univoltine, and the probably overwintersas late instar larvae.
Etymology of names– Amphipyra is Greek for ‘around the fire’, but I cannot ascertain what that refers to. The specific epithet tragopoginis refers to members of the plant genus Tragopogon (salsify or goat’s beard), which were thought to be a primary larval host.