Tarache aprica

Exposed Bird-dropping Moth
Tarache aprica

POHL: 93-1343
MONA: 9136
GenBank: 319976

Identification: Male and female are different.
Head: Black. Nose cone (palpi) very short, tip white.
Antenna: Reaches to near mid-wing; brown, sometimes with some white scaling.
Thorax: White, with varying amounts of grayish at center of thorax. Female usually has base of thorax with a narrow stripe of grayish to brown.
Female: Dark brown, mottled with white, more so at base and tip. On outer margin (costa), a large white, squarish patch about mid-wing which has a black spot in one corner; a second, slightly smaller, white triangular patch at 2/3 wing length. Small black dot (orbicular) mid-wing. Fringe grayish, sometimes with small area of white fringe near anal angle.
Hindwing white at base, becoming grayish with a dark mark near center.

Male: White from base to mid-wing (may have some light gray shading). Black square-like area on last half of wings has right-angle or “step-down” progression to wing tip. Large, black reniform spot between steps. Outer margin (costal) base half has a gray to brownish patch. Another gray to brownish patch below the reniform spot (sometimes connected to spot). Small black dot (orbicular) mid-wing. Wing tips dark. Fringe grayish, sometimes with small area of white fringe near anal angle.
Hindwing white, grayish along outer margin.
Legs: Dark, all joints have white tips. Wide white stripe on thigh (femur). Legs appear striped.
Abdomen: White to whitish-yellow.

Similar Species: Males are similar to the Olive-shaded Bird Dropping Moth Ponometia candefacta which has the black (reniform) spot surrounded on 3 sides with dark; on T. aprica only 2 sides of the spot have a black area next to it. P. candefacta has wing tip white, on T. aprica it is dark.

Size: About 12 to 14 mm long. Wingspan 22 to 29 mm.

Habitat: Damp meadows, marshes, field edges.

Food: Larvae feed on Hollyhocks Althaea rosea and Hibiscus; both flowers and leaves.

Flight Time: May to September.

Life Cycle:Two generations per year. Adults attracted to lights. Larva is a looper, green to brown. Similar to the Small Bird-dropping Moth Ponometia erastrioides, except for a large brown spot on abdominal segment 1. Spiracles are black, surrounded with white. To 30 mm. long.
Note: The Curve-lined Tarache terminimaculata (also in Ontario) larva may also feed on Hollyhocks and Hibiscus as well as basswood.

Comments: Rare in Ontario. Two others found in Essex County – Beadle in Leamington, 2012 and Jenniskens in Harrow. One recorded from London in 1899. The Canadian National Collection (CNC) has a female from Chatham, no date.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page