There is just something particularly interesting about the patterning of the darts in general, something clean, geometrical, and elegant about their lines, and I’m always particularly thrilled when I find the striking and beautiful Feltia herilis (master’s dart). For some reason this member of Noctuidae didn’t want to settle down, and I wanted photos so badly that I just captured it so I could chill it and photograph it at home. I was still hoping for another one to visit so I could get some in situ pics, but this moth was the only member of its species to visit me on the 6th Night of Moth Week .
Description– “ A medium-size (3.6-4.0 cm wingspan) dark purplish-brown moth with a contrasting pale yellow streak running from the wing base before fading out just beyond the prominent pale yellow reniform spot. A jet-black basal streak runs below the yellow streak and incorporates the black claviform spot. The area between the pale streak and the costa is filled with black scales before, between and just beyond the orbicular and reniform. The costa is only very slightly paler than the wing ground except in some worn specimens, and the terminal third of the wing smooth and without any pattern except for a few pale scales indicating a subterminal line. The hindwings are mostly sooty brown, somewhat lighter in the basal half in males and darker in females.” Feltia herilis – University of Alberta Museums Search Site
Similar species– “Feltia herilis can be identified by the combination of dark gray forewing with light reniform spot and streak below the cubital vein. The only species with which it could be confused is Feltia subgothica which is restricted to southern Idaho in our region. It has a light-colored costal margin to the forewing, not dark as in F. herilis.” PNW Moths | Feltia herilis
Habitat– “In the Pacific Northwest, it is more narrowly restricted to moist grasslands, oak savanna, and oak woodlands at low elevations west of the Cascades. It is also common in disturbed forest clear-cuts of coastal rainforests at low to middle elevations, and is an early successional species in forest ecology. It is found mostly in forests east of the Cascades and Coast Mountains. It is found in in agricultural areas in drier areas, such as along the Yakima River in Washington. It has not been collected in eastern Oregon.” PNW Moths | Feltia herilis
Range– “This species is broadly distributed in North America from the East Coast to central Texas west to the Pacific Northwest…Feltia herilis is found throughout the western part of the Pacific Northwest from south-western British Columbia to Lane County in west-central Oregon. It has a more limited range east of the mountains, primarily in southern British Columbia and southern Washington, and appears to be absent from much of eastern Oregon. Scattered Idaho records are from the Panhandle and Snake River Plain.” PNW Moths | Feltia herilis
Eats– “Larvae feed on more than 40 plant species including crops, forages, vegetables, and forbs/herbs. Adults may take nectar–I’ve seen it feeding on Blazing Star (Liatris) at night. [Patrick Coin]” Species Feltia herilis – Master’s Dart – Hodges#10676 – 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-Nocturnal; June into September, with a peak in July-August.
Life cycle– Univoltine; from the timing of the adult flight it seems likely they overwinter as either eggs or early instar larvae in diapause, but I cannot verify this.
Etymology of names– Feltia is, according to A. Maitland Emmet in “The Scientific Names of the British Lepidoptera: Their History and Meaning” (1991), “…probably a meaningless neologism”. The specific epithet herilis is from the Latin word for ‘of the master’, but I cannot ascertain what Grote meant by this.