confusing Confusing Petrophila moths

Petrophilas are confusing already, and beyond that there is one actually named Confusing Petrophila (P. confusalis). I hadn't really heard of it until recently when I tentatively identified one in Terrell Co (TX) and one here coming to my light in Hays Co (TX) as such:

Somewhat noticeable amongst Texas petrophilas is the thickish irregular blackish dash above both the innermost 2 eyespots and outermost (1) eyespot on the hindwing. I also think it seems to have a very thin upper white border along the "wedge" near the forewing apex. This white border is thinner than many petrophilas and seems to expand just ever so slightly as it approaches the costa. Color-wise the yellow/orange seems to be less red than P. jaliscalis but also less yellow than P. bifascialis.

MPG shows entries for the west coast/Pacific northwest. Bugguide indicates that they are in the eastern US though I have not found many images online for that range. All the BG images are from the MPG shown range (and one of the BG images from Arkansas seems to be misIDed). In iNat, there is an entry for Arkansas that seems to be misIDed though there is one from Virginia that seems to be a good fit. Also in iNat for Mexico, there are 3 IDed as confusalis though I think only 1 appears to be the same critter as what I've ID and it is in Coahuila, just shy of the Texas border.

I took a quick spin through the 600+ petrophila iNat entries for Texas and think I've found some P. confusalis lurking out there (including my own), mostly IDed to genus-level only or IDed as P. jaliscalis. I don't think P. jaliscalis will have that irregular black dash above the eye spots.

A slight caveat - I also don't know much about P. heppneri that ptexis seems to get frequently. To my eye, with that species the dashed line above the eye spot is thinner, not quite as black and is sometimes present in different lengths or not as distinct.

These critters are confusing and may very well be Confusing, too. Something to keep your eyes alert for...

@gcwarbler @ptexis @greglasley @mako252 @jeffmci9 @centratex @sambiology @rkostecke

Posted by ecarpe ecarpe, June 17, 2019 17:32


Thanks for this post, Eric. I too have wrestled with these in various places. Chuck has corrected me on so many occasions — I thought he had a journal post with the different Petrophila, but I can’t seem to find it.

Thanks for curating some of these on iNat too, Eric!

Posted by sambiology about 3 years ago (Flag)

I guessed that if I took the time to write a journal entry that I would end up wrong in my initial thinking...and that appears to be the case. I realized I was wrong on the ones I had IDed as P. confusalis. They all have the indistinct dark spots on the forewing that seem to match P. fulicalis. Now that I know to look for those spots, it seems obvious now looking back on the iNat images for Texas. I will probably go back and curate/ID those that I think should be this species today.

Posted by ecarpe almost 3 years ago (Flag)

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