Help Translating Some German Text on Acronicta Moths?

Some recent sightings* of Acronicta moths have prompted me to try to dig into the original descriptions of certain species to look for distinctions. The three species are:

9222 - Acronicta paupercula Grote 1874

9223 - Acronicta lepetita Smith 1908

9225 - Acronicta vinnula (Grote 1864)

The original description of paupercula by Grote in 1874 is of little help because it only compares that species to A. exilis, a very different looking species of the E. US.
I can't find Smith's original (1908) description of lepetita. The only description of these three similar species that I can find online is in Seitz' 1919 massive work: Macrolepidoptera of the World, Part 2 American Macrolepidoptera, Div. 7 Owlet Moths, p. 21. It's in German and my German is all but non-existent. The volume can be viewed online starting with the following title page, or downloaded from the Biodiversity Heritage Library from this page:

Below I'm pasting in the text from page 21 regarding the three species and hoping someone with German proficiency can help translate it. (Seitz illustrates the three species on his plate 3 but the hand-paintings are pretty simplified and the titles and legend are illegible on the online version from the Smithsonian, so they are of no help.) So below is the text from Seitz, 1919, p. 21. This was OCR-ed and I've tried to read through it for typos, but there may still be some spelling errors. The term "Hflgl" is apparently an abbreviation, but I can't find the full word:

A. vinnula Grt. (3 c). Eine kleine weißliche, etwas olive getönte Art, die mit keiner anderen zu verwechseln ist. Der schwarze Verbindungsstrich zwischen den Querlinien fehlt, letztere mehr oder weniger olivgrün; der schwarze Wurzelstrich entsendet in der Mitte einen Haken zum Ird. Hflgl weißlich, braun bestäubt. Canada, Vereinigte Staaten bis Texas. Die grüne Raupe trägt auf jeder Warze ein steifes Haar, das von kürzeren kreuzförmig umstellt ist. Sie lebt an Ulme.

A. paupercula Ort. (3 c) ist der vorigen etwas ähnlich, hat aber mehr bräunliche oder besser schmutzig rötlichgelbe Bestäubung auf dem granweißen Grund, die Zeichnung ist sonst ähnlich, die vordere Querlinie und besonders der Mittelschatten sind aber viel undeutlicher. Texas.

A. lepetita Sm. (3d) ist ebenfalls der vinnula ähnlich, kleiner, die Grundfarbe ist blaugrau, olivenbraun gemischt besonders vor dem Saum, Wellenlinie ganz undeutlich. Hflgl dunkler. Aus Texas beschrieben.

If you can translate German, please add a comment here or send me a personal message. Or if you know of someone who might help with this please direct them to this journal post.


Publicado el 27 de mayo de 2018 a las 06:52 AM por gcwarbler gcwarbler


Here is my attempt. "Hflgl" seems to be an abbreviation for hindwings (hinterer Flügel)

A. vinnula Grt. (3c). A small whitish, somewhat olive-tinted species that cannot be confused with any other. The black connecting line between the transverse lines (or "cross lines"?) is missing, the transverse lines being more or less olive green; the black "root" stripe has a hook that branches off of it in the middle towards the Ird(?). Hindwings whitish, dusted with brown. Canada, United States to Texas. The green caterpillars have a stiff hair on each wart. That hair is surrounded by shorter, cross-shaped (hairs?). They live on Elm.

A. paupercula Ort. (3c) is somewhat similar to the previous species (A. vinnula), but has more brownish, or better yet, dirty reddish-yellow dusting on the grayish-white background. The pattern is otherwise similar, but the front transverse line, and particularly the middle shadow, are much less distinct. Texas.

A. lepetita Sm. (3d) is also similar to vinnula, smaller, the background color is blue-gray, mixed with olive-brown especially towards the edges, the wavy lines are quite indistinct. Hindwings dark. Described from Texas.

Anotado por alisonnorthup hace cerca de 6 años

Thanks very much, Alison! This is basically the drift of what I could understand. The "transverse lines" undoubtedly refer to what we now term the antemedial and post-medial lines (AM and PM). The "black root stripe" is likely to be the basal streak that so many Acronicta show rather prominently, less so on vinnula. All in all, these descriptions are vague enough that they won't really help us with our Texas specimens, but it was worth a try!

Anotado por gcwarbler hace cerca de 6 años

OK! Thanks for the opportunity to dust off the old German... :-)

Anotado por alisonnorthup hace cerca de 6 años

Further note on Acronicta lepetita, original description: I found the original publication of this name by John B. Smith in the Annals of the N.Y. Academy of Science, 1908, Vol. 18(2), part 2, p. 94-95. He describes the species from one male and one female from Brownsville, TX, then states: "The species is allied to vinnula and paupercula, but is smaller than either and much more delicately marked. Comparatively, also, the primaries of the new species are shorter and broader." He lists the wingspan of lepetita as 26-28 mm, implying a FW length of about 12-13 mm.

I have gone back through my measured Acronicta's that I had identified as lepetita, all from Austin. For 22 individuals, their mean FW length is 14.9 mm (median 14.5, mode 15). They are quite variable as to ground color, strength of markings, etc., overlapping broadly with what I see IDed as A. vinnula from well within the range of the latter species (e.g. E of the Mississippi River). The same can be said for the 10 individual "lepetita" currently displayed on BugGuide, all Texas records including images ranging from Fort Bend and Fayette counties W to Llano, Edwards, and Medina counties (none from deep South Texas).

Modern field guides (Covell, Beadle & Leckie) all include A. vinnula, but only the new Southeastern guide by Leckie & Beadle includes A. lepetita. None of them show paupercula.

In the absence of information on genitalic differences (which I haven't encountered), my sense is that all three of these represent the same variable species. In that hypothetical setting, Acronicta vinnula would take nomenclatural precedence; the other two would be synonyms...but luckily, I'm not a taxonomist.

I'll supplement this note with further information as I develop it.

Anotado por gcwarbler hace cerca de 6 años

UPDATE (April 2020): Almost all of the above discussion has been rendered pretty much moot by the publication of the new Moths of North America fascicle covering the genus Acronicta by Schmidt & Anweiler*. After thorough research of genitalia, barcodes, and wing patterns, they conclude that lepetita is the same thing as paupercula, thus a synonym of the latter, and that paupercula itself is just a subspecies of the more widespread Acronicta vinnula. The whole species ranges across all of the eastern U.S. The subspecies A. v. paupercula (and thus the former lepetita) occurs in central and south Texas.

This leads to a discussion of what to do about all of our lepetita observations on iNat. There are several options:

Leave all lepetita identified as is, and let a future taxon swap place them in a new structure, either as A. vinnula as the larger species concept, or with the subspecies paupercula as part of the revised taxonomy.
Re-identify them now as Acronicta paupercula under the current iNat taxonomy, understanding that paupercula will eventually get placed as a subspecies of A. vinnula by some type of taxon swap.
Re-identify them all now as A. vinnula as the proper species placement, discarding the subspecies issue.
I personally favor option 2 since it retains the taxonomic identity of the Texas populations and will allow the taxonomic structure to eventually take care of proper placement.

Schmidt, B. C., & G. G. Anweiler. 2020. The Moths of North America, Fascicle 25.4, Noctuoidea, Noctuidae (Part), Pantheinae, Raphiinae, Balsinae, Acronictinae. Wedge Entomological Res. Found. 469 p.

Anotado por gcwarbler hace mas de 4 años

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