New York Natural Heritage Program
Toothed Apharetra
Sympistis dentata (Grote, 1875)

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Although it is gray and not strongly marked this moth is easily identified. It suggests a miniature Acronicta tritona. The Long Island populations are somewhat distinctive in appearance and resemble this species in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, which was described as being different (Forbes 1954).

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
See any illustration such as Rockburne and Lafontaine (1976). The only similar moth in New York is Acronicta tritona, which is much larger. The color of this moth matches pine, larch, or spruce bark. The color, size, and shape are distinctive. Specimens from pine barrens tend to have subdued markings, and often have a slightly darker ground color, relative to those from areas with extensive wetlands.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
The adult is the best life stage for identification. However, from a picture from Tim McCabe (1991; New York State Museum) it appears that the shape and pattern of the larvae are distinctive among the caterpillars that would be expected on heaths in late spring.

Behavior [-]
The adults are attracted to baits and lights at night. The larvae likely hide during the day.

Diet [-]
Larval foodplants include Pale Laurel (Kalmia polifolia), Blueberry (Vaccinium sp.), and possibly other low heaths.
Toothed Apharetra Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
The phenology seems remarkably consistent over most of the range of the species, and adults do not seem to appear earlier in southern portions of the range. In New York, adults occur from about mid-July to early or mid-August. The eggs probably overwinter and the larvae occur in the spring. The flight season suggests that the larvae must routinely feed well into June and McCabe (1991)
collected two nearly mature larvae on 26 June.
Reproducing Larvae present and active Eggs present outside adult Pupae or prepupae present
The time of year you would expect to find Toothed Apharetra reproducing (red shading), larvae present and active (blue shading), eggs present outside adult (green shading) and pupae or prepupae present (orange shading) in New York.