Noctuidae - Acontiinae




Ponometia candefacta (Hübner), NEW COMBINATION

Tarache candefacta Hübner, [1831] 1825, Zuträge zur Sammlung Exotischer Schmettlinge, 3:39, pl. [101], figs. 587,588.

Micra haworthana Westwood, 1851, in Humphreys and Westwood, British Mouths and their Transformations, 1:243.

Acontia debilis Walker, [1858] 1857, List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum, 12:786.

Acontia neomexicana Smith, 1900, Trans. Amer. Ent. Soc., 27:81.

Diagnosis: Ponometia candefacta is the commonest and most widespread of the North American Acontiinae occupying most of North America from Canada in the north and southward well into Mexico. The species feeds on ragweed (Ambrosia spp.) and is being researched as a possible biological control agent for these noxious weed species.

The basal half of the forewing is primarily white in a roughly triangular shape. There may be some irregular and small gray markings in the white. The dark markings in the outer half of the forewing are dark, dull gray brown with some olive-yellow shading. The largest dark mark is an irregular, elongate triangle stretching from the inner margin and running toward the apex of the wing. There two dark marks on the costa, one just before the reniform and the second half way between the larger mark and the apex. The reniform is uniformly gray and surrounded by white.There is a narrow gray band in the terminal area and the terminal line is a series of black dashes. The fringe is a combination of dark and white patches. The hindwing is white with dark spotting along the outer margin and a strong concentration of gray-brown scales near the apex. Wing length from base to apex in one selected individual 10 mm.

Distribution: (Based only on specimens in the USNM). Ponometia candefacta is a common and widely spread species of North America. It occurs from southern Canada southward throughout the United States. The species is also found in most of Mexico.

Identification Quality: Good

Larva: The larva has been described by Crumb, 1956, U.S. Dept. Agric. Tech. Bull. 1135:51.

Foodplants: Ambrosia artemisiifolia and A. psilostachya, Arctium lappa, and Aster dumosus (Asteraceae) (HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants, Natural History Museum).

Distribution map based on specimens in the USNM


Ponometia candefacta

The major forewing markings of Ponometia candefacta are dark with gray-brown predominating. Although some yellow or olive green is present, it is not dominant. In contrast the predominate colors of Ponometia binocula, virginalis, and huita are yellow or olive-green. The terminal line of candefacta is a series of distinct black dashes. Dark dashes may be present in the other three species, but they are never as well formed or distinctive as in candefacta.

Similar Species

Ponometia binocula

Ponometia virginalis

Ponometia huita