New York Natural Heritage Program
Pine Barrens Zale
Zale lunifera (Hübner, 1818)
Insects

Identifying Characteristics [-]
The pine barrens zale is a gray moth that is difficult to identify. It must be confirmed by an expert in moth identification. Its forewings are mottled with dark and pale grays, with brownish-black areas at the base and tip. Each forewing contains a thick, brown line on the inner portion of the wing; a thin, wavy line on the outer portion of the wing; a long, thin, yellowish-brown, reniform spot; and a small black spot. The hind wings have dark and pale gray bands. The wingspan is 30-34 mm.

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
Moth size, and forewing shape and markings are the most useful characters for identification (Schmidt 2010).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
The adult is the best life stage for identification. The larvae look similar to those of some other species in the genus.

Behavior [-]
Adults and larvae (at least later larval stages) are nocturnal. Larvae hide at the base of their foodplants, scrubby oaks, or in nearby litter during the day. In New York, adults fly from mid-May until mid-June. Eggs hatch less than two weeks after they are laid. Larvae occur in spring and pupate in summer. Pupae overwinter, and adult moths emerge in May.

Diet [-]
Larvae eat new growth of scrubby oaks. The diet of adults is unknown.
Pine Barrens Zale Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
In New York, the best time to see pine barrens zales is during their flight season, from mid-May until mid-June.
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Reproducing Larvae present and active Pupae or prepupae present
The time of year you would expect to find Pine Barrens Zale reproducing (blue shading), larvae present and active (green shading) and pupae or prepupae present (orange shading) in New York.