Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGeometridae Members: 170 NC Records

Hethemia pistasciaria (Guenée, [1858]) - Pistachio Emerald


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Geometroidea Family: GeometridaeSubfamily: GeometrinaeTribe: HemitheiniP3 Number: 910667.00 MONA Number: 7084.00
Comments: This genus contains just the single species that is found in North Carolina (Ferguson, 1985).
Species Status: Two subspecies have been described, of which we presumably have the nominate form; H. pistaciaria insecutata is primarily a Floridian form and has only been recorded as far north as the Santee River in South Carolina (Ferguson, 1985). The main difference is in wing color, with the nominate form being green and insecutata being purplish-brown to red (Ferguson, 1985). While we have records for brick-red individuals, primarily from along the Coast, they need to be checked whether they also have the light brown ground color on the undersurfaces of the wings, which Ferguson considers characteristic of insecutata, or the bright ochre that is characteristic of the nominate subspecies.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalistTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948, as Chlorissa pistaciaria); Ferguson (1969, 1985)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Ferguson (1985); Wagner et al., (2001); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A small Emerald with angled hindwings somewhat similar to those of Chloropteryx tepperaria but less strongly pointed (Ferguson, 1985). The ground color of the wings is olive to pistachio green in the males and a brighter sage-green in the females (Ferguson, 1985). The color of the males, however, is unstable and fades to yellowish in some individuals. The undersides of the males are a bright ocher color, which is also present in the females in populations south of New Jersey (Ferguson, 1985). Some of our specimens -- particularly from along the Coast -- are reddish-brown, which Ferguson considered typical of the southern subspecies, insecutata (see discussion above under Species Comments). As in Chloropteryx, the antemedian and postmedian lines are thin and often represented by separated spots. However, the postmedian is much more even in its course than in Chloropteryx. Hethemia also differs from Chloropteryx in lacking a terminal line and having solid-colored fringes, which are often reddish-brown in the males and green in the females (Ferguson, 1985). The costa is also usually a solid red or yellow, lacking the brown spots found in Chloropteryx. No brown abdominal spot is found in Hethemia and the collar is usually yellowish or brown, rather than green, as is true for Chloropteryx.
Forewing Length: 8.5-10 mm, males; 10-13 mm, females (Ferguson, 1985)
Adult Structural Features: Males are unique among our Emeralds in possessing simple antennae (Ferguson, 1985). As in other members of the Hemitheini, males also posses only a single pair of spurs on the hind tibiae; females possess two. The eighth sternite in the males has a two-pronged process and the valves, gnathos, and transitilla are distinctive (Ferguson, 1985).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are slender and lack the dorso-lateral processes found in Nemoria, Dichorda, and Synchlora. As in Chlorochlamys and Chloropteryx, the head of the larvae is bifurcate, with two projections also found on the prothorax; the supra-anal plate also has a single pointed projection. The projections on the head are longer and more pointed than in Chlorchlamys and the projection on the supra-anal plate is proportionately shorter than in Chloropteryx (Wagner et al., 2001).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably occurs statewide
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Single-brooded, with adults flying in the spring
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: The majority of our records come from the Coastal Plain, primarily from fairly open, shrubby areas, such as maritime scrub on the barrier islands and Longleaf Pine savannas and flatwoods further inland. In the savannas and flatwoods in particular, oaks and other hardwoods are scarce to absent but Blueberries and other heaths are abundant. Peatlands are also used, where heaths are again dominate and oaks are absent. On the barrier islands, on the other hand, heaths are uncommon and salt-tolerant shrubs and xeropytic oaks predominate. None of our Coastal Plain records include bottomland hardwoods or swamp forests, where oaks are dominant but heaths and other shrubby species are uncommon. Our few Piedmont records come primarily from dry, open woodlands that support Pine-Oak-Heath dominated communities. Only in the Mountains and primarily in the Great Smoky Mountains do we have records from stands of mesic hardwood communities, including cove forests.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous on woody trees and shrubs. Ferguson (1985) lists Blueberries, Oaks, Birches, Ironwood, and Basswood.
Observation Methods: Comes well to blacklights but we have no records from bait or from flowers.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Forests and Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species has a wide range within North Carolina and occupies a broad set of habitats; consequently, it appears to be fairly secure.

 Photo Gallery for Hethemia pistasciaria - Pistachio Emerald

Photos: 21

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-05-18
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-05-02
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-04-21
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-04-08
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-03-30
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-03-28
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Susannah Goldston on 2019-05-16
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2018-05-05
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger on 2017-04-17
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2017-04-17
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall and Ed Corey on 2015-05-16
Alleghany Co.
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Recorded by: T. Nergart on 2015-05-07
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: T. Nergart on 2015-05-07
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2014-05-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Britta Muiznieks on 2014-04-26
Dare Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof, S. Becker on 2013-05-09
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: B. Bockhahn on 2012-04-12
Halifax Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-04-11
Halifax Co.
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Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 2006-04-24
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 2006-04-16
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Newman, Randy on 2005-04-27
Carteret Co.
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