Copablepharon viridisparsa Dod, 1916
WA : Okanogan Co.
Bridgeport S. P., 1113 ft
June 15, 1996, L. G. Crabo.
Specimen courtesy of LGCC
Photograph copyright: Merrill A. Peterson
Copablepharon viridisparsa is a distinctive, streaky gray-green moth with relatively long and pointed forewings. It is medium-sized (FW length 17 - 21 mm). The green color is produced by intermixed gray and yellow scales, not green pigment. The forewing margins are paler whitish to light yellow depending on the population, and the forewings are longitudinally streaked with yellow from base to the terminal area through the cell and fold region. The antemedial and postmedial lines are marked by a few black dots on the veins. The hindwings are light gray, with dark populations entirely gray and desert populations lighter whitish gray near the base with visible dark discal spot and veins. The fringe and median margin are white. The head and thorax are greenish like the forewings while the abdomen is pale gray. The male antenna is bead-like.
This species can be told by all other North American moths by its gray-green color and streaky pattern.
The Pacific Northwest populations of this species are referable to two subspecies; the nominate subspecies is found on the Great Plains.
Copablepharon viridisparsa hopfingeri, named from Brewster, Washington, is pale whitish-green. It appears to be restricted to low elevation sand habitats along the Columbia River from southern British Columbia (Trail) to Wenatchee, Washington. It is local and is rarely collected. This subspecies may warrant consideration for protection.
The other subspecies, C. viridisparsa gilvum (type locality Lee Vining, California), is more common widespread. It is darker gray green with dark gray hindwings at high elevations in the Cascade Range, blending to paler and more yellow forms in the desert of southeastern Oregon. Lafontaine et al. (2004) treated the dark Cascade forms as subspecies C. v. ravum, type locality Mt. Shasta, California; however, it is now known that these mountain populations and desert populations intergrade in central Oregon. Therefore, we consider subspecies ravum to be restricted to northern California and expand the use of subspecies gilvum to include the Cascade populations.
The type locality of Copablepharon hopfingeri Franclemont is Bar, Washington. Bar likely refers to Bridgeport Bar in Douglas County where John Hopfinger who collected the type specimens lived.
This species is widely distributed in dry prairie and rangeland habitats throughout much of western North America. In the Pacific Northwest, it is most common to abundant in dry, open sagebrush steppe and juniper woodlands at low to middle elevations east of the Cascades. It also occurs at high elevations in dry, open meadows along the summit of the Cascades, on Drake Peak in the Warner Mountains, and in the Steens Mountains of southeastern Oregon. It appears to prefer habitats with loose soils composed of volcanic ash in the Pacific Northwest, but is also known from sand dunes in the Columbia Basin of Washington.
Subspecies C. v. hopfingeri is found along the Columbia River from Trail, British Columbia to Wenatchee, Washington. The only recent records are from Bridgeport State Park, Okanogan County, Washington and Ft. Spokane State Park, Lincoln County, Washington.
Subspecies C. v. gilvum is found at intermediate to high elevations in the Washington Cascade Mountains. It is also widespread in central and southern Oregon. It also occurs in central and southern Idaho, but has only been collected infrequently there.
This species is widespread in Western North America outside the Pacific Northwest. Subspecies C. v. viridisparsa flies in the Great Plains from northern Colorado to the northern limit of the Plains in Canada's Prairie Provinces. C. v. gilvum is found in the Intermountain region in Utah and northern Nevada as well as throughout most of eastern California. Subspecies C. v. ravum is restricted to Mt. Shasta in northern California.
This species is a burrowing cutworm that burrows through loose soils of volcanic ash or sand up to 2.5 cm. below the soil surface, and feeds on herbaceous vegetation such as weedy mustards (Brassicaceae). Larvae emerge at night from the soil to feed on vegetation.
Adults are single brooded and fly in summer. Subspecies C. v. hopfingeri flies in June and C. v. gilvum flies in July and August. This species is nocturnal and comes to lights.
Lafontaine, Crabo, & Fauske (2004)