|scientific name Feralia major Smith|
common name Major Sallow
Major occurs in coniferous forest, in particular where there are pines.
In Alberta the adults fly in mid to late April.
A medium-size (approx.4.0 cm wingspan robust olive grey-green and black moth that flies in early spring. The basal and terminal areas of the forewings are lighter olive green, with smaller patches along the costa, around the orbicular and reniform spots, with the remainder suffused with black. The amount of black varies considerable, and the illustrated specimen (from Redwater) is about average. The hindwings are dark grey, usually with pale olive in the disc and on the lower margin. The fringes are checkered. The thorax and abdomen are olive and black. Sexes similar, except male antennae bipectinate, female simple. The other two Alberta species of Feralia are more common and widespread. F. comstocki is paler green with greatly reduced dark areas and lighter hindwings; F. jocosa is smaller with darker hindwings, and usually lacks the extensive dark suffusion on the forewings.
Like other Feralia species, the life history is probably closely linked to the appearance of new buds on the host conifers. Adults emerge early in the spring and lay eggs which hatch about the time the bud scales drop off the new buds. The larvae feed on the soft new needles until they harden, then pupate. They complete much of their transformation in the pupae before winter, and thus are ready to emerge as soon as it warms in spring. They are nocturnal and come to light.
The larvae are solitary defoliators of conifers, including spruce and pines.
Feralia major was described from New York State, and occurs from the northeastern USA west across the southern boreal forest to western Alberta. The southern limits of distribution are uncertain, as populations from the southeastern USA south to Texas are brighter blue-green and based on bar-coded specimens appear to be a separate species.
Feralia major is another of the “eastern” boreal moths that were added to the Alberta list in the late 1990s by ALG members. At the time major had not been reported from west of Ontario, although we were aware of misidentified specimens from Manitoba in the Northern Forestry Center collection. We collected the first Alberta specimens in the forested dunes near Redwater in 1999. We have collected them there on a number of occasions since, as well as in mature mixedwood forest near Devon and on the edge of the foothills just west of Wabamun Lake.
Rebecca Jeppesen (2010-04-13)
Having recently comlpeted my M.Sc. in wildlife ecology, I''ve been making an effort to improve my insect identificatiomn skills (my research to date has focused on mammals). Yestarday eveing (April 12) I saw a Major Sallow by my porch light. I hadn''t seen this species before in Eastern Nova Scotia, and cannot find information concerning the north-eastern extent of the range, beyond mention of NY. Thought you may be interested to know that it was here. Thanks!
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