Dolocucullia dentilinea (Smith, 1899)
OR : Clatsop Co.
Elsie, Gronnel Rd., 427 ft
May 24, 1988
Specimen courtesy of LGCC
Photograph copyright: Merrill A. Peterson
Dolocucullia dentilinea is a medium-sized, gray moth (FW length 16–17 mm) that flies along the Pacific Coast and in east-central Oregon during late spring and summer. It has an antemedial line that is broad on the costa and strongly pointed toward the outer margin in the fold. The forewing is much less pointed than other members of the subfamily Cuculliinae. The ground color is usually slightly powdery medium-gray, occasionally whitish gray. Variable dark shading is present on the posterior wing and outer margin, often darkest and most extensively in the posterior median area. A dark gray to black spot is present in the posterior subterminal area in some specimens, often with a slightly lighter gray line at the outer margin near vein CuA2. The transverse lines are dark gray. The basal line is very short, limited to the costa. The antemedial line is broad on the costa where it is perpendicular or angled toward the outer margin, strongly zigzagged below the cubital vein to nearly reach the postmedial line in the fold. The median line is a dark mark on the costa. The postmedial line is evenly scalloped, strongly excurved around the end of the cell and then oblique to the wing to end on the mid-trailing margin. The subterminal line is a dark mark near the costa. The terminal line is a series of black spots between the veins. The fringe is the ground color. The spots are usually absent. The reniform spot is a dark smudge in some specimens. The hindwing is light gray with a slightly darker brown-gray marginal band and dark gray veins. The hindwing fringe is has a pale whitish edge and a light gray base. The head and thorax are the same as the ground color, powdery medium-gray to whitish-gray, with a dark V-shaped mark (apex toward the anterior) on the median collar at the base of a slight midline hump. The male antenna is filiform.
This species can usually be recognized from other species that occur along the Pacific Coast by its gray color and the strongly angled shape of the antemedial line in the fold. It could potentially be confused with Cucullia intermedia or Cucullia florea. Both of these species lack an antemedial line. Dolocucullia dentilinea also resembles Lacinipolia patalis, a more common moth in western Oregon and Washington. Compared to D. dentilinea, L. patalis has a less pointed forewing with better defined markings that include a thin black basal dash. It lacks the dark gray spot near the anal angle that is a feature of D. dentilinea.
In the Pacific Northwest this species is often common in moist meadows of coastal rainforests within the Coast Range. It is particularly abundant in disturbed, open clear-cuts of the Oregon Coast Range. It also occurs less commonly in meadows of the Cascades.
Dolocucullia dentilinea is mainly found on the immediate Pacific Coast in the Northwest as far north as southwestern British Columbia. It occurs rarely in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. A single specimen has been collected in northern Harney County, Oregon, on the south slope of the Blue Mountains.
Dolocucullia dentilinea has an unusual distribution in western North America. The West Coast population extends south through California. Inland populations are found in the Sierra Nevada. The range extends east through Arizona and New Mexico to Colorado and the adjacent central Great Plains. It remains possible that the Coast and inland populations are different species. Small differences in the male genitalia are described by Poole (Nearctica.com), but he downplays these because of a tendency for variation in the genitalia in other species in the genus.
No information is presently available regarding larval foodplants of this species, but it probably feeds on herbaceous Asteraceae such as goldenrods (Solidago spp.) or gumweed (Gridelia spp.). The exotic tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) may be an important foodplant in the Oregon Coast Range.
The flight period of this species is late spring and summer. It has been collected from late May through August in the Northwest. It is nocturnal and comes to lights.