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Holotype male: “USA: NM: Eddy Co. Carlsbad Caverns N[ational] P[ark], riparian habitat, 32°06.566' N 104°28.257' W, 29 August 2006, Eric H. Metzler, CCNP4, uv trp Accsn #: CAVE - 02263", “HOLOTYPE USNM Elasmia cave Metzler” [red handwritten label] (USNM). Paratypes: 19 males; 14 females: NEW MEXICO: USA: NM: Eddy Co. Carlsbad Caverns NP, arroyo habitat 32°05.98'N 104°33.57'W, 5 September 2010, Eric H. Metzler, CCNP2 uv trp Accssn #: CAVE - 02263. TEXAS: Alpine, Tex., 1–7 May 1926, 8–14 May 1926, 1–7 July 1926, 8–14 July 1926, 15–21 July 1926, 1–7 Aug. 1926, 15–21 Aug. 1926, O.C. Poling, Coll[ector]. Barnes Collection (USNM), Texas, Uvalde Co. Concan, 12-V-90, leg. E.C. Knudson. 14-X-93, Concan, Uvalde Co., TX, Coll C. Bordelon. TX: Brewster Co., Big Bend N.P., Green Gulch/5400' 5–7-V-97/ECK. Big Bend, Tex. Brewster Co., 6–7000 ft., Poling, F. Johnson donor, 8-1-26. USA: Texas: Jeff Davis Co. Davis Mountains, Limpia Canyon, elev: 4920', 30°30.0'N 103°52.5'W, 8 August 1991, Eric H. Metzler. TEXAS: Jeff Davis Co., 25-VI-81, Davis Mt. St. Pk., Jeff Davis Co. TX: Ft. Davis, 3-x-94, leg. E. Knudson. 24 Aug 1995. Jeff Davis Co. Texas, 5-V-78, Kokernaut Creek, leg. E.C. Knudson. Jeff Davis Co., TX, Ft. Davis, 10,11-IX-10 Bordelon & Knudson coll. Jeff Davis Co., TX, Ft. Davis, 24–26-V-07 Bordelon & Knudson coll. TX: Culberson Co., Guadalupe Mts. N.P., Lamar Cyn., Coll. C. Bordelon. TEXAS: Culberson Co., Guadalupe Mts. N.P., Pine Spring, 6–8-IX-91, leg. E.C. Knudson. Green Gulch 5400' Big Bend Natl. Park Brewster Co., Texas 4 May 1972 J. G. Franclemont ♂ Genitalia slide 6419 J. G. Franclemont. Alpine, Brewster Co. Texas 15–21 Aug. 1926 O.C. Poling ♂ Genitalia slide 2535 J. G. Franclemont. (EHM, MSU, CUC, TLSRC, USNM).
CAVE is the acronym, used by the U.S. National Park Service, for Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The specific name of this species, cave, treated as a noun in apposition, refers to the type locality, Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Elasmia cave is a dark brown-gray moth with obscure transverse markings. Elasmia cave looks like brown example of Elasmia mandela; Elasmia mandela is dark gray brown. The brown color of the imago and its genitalia will separate Elasmia cave from Elasmia packardii, whichis gray blue to gray. The uncus of Elasmia packardii (Fig. 11), narrow at its apex, gradually widens with evenly curved sides. The uncus of Elasmia cave (Fig. 14) is wide, like a manta ray, and narrows immediately before the apex. The distal end of the costulae of Elasmia insularis, n=3,are narrow, straight or slightly sinuous, and without bend or swelling apically (illustrated by Torre and Alayo 1959); the costulae of Elasmia mandela, n=3, are nearly identical to Elasmia insularis. In comparison to Elasmia insularis and Elasmia mandela, the costulae of Elasmia cave (Fig. 15) are broader, and they are abruptly bent upward and swollen at the distal end.
Adult male (Fig. 5): Head: smoky gray, scales strap-like, erect, a fuscous line between eyes below antennae. Labial palpus erect, extending upward to slightly beyond base of antenna, smoky brown gray with a fuscous lateral stripe, extends to slightly beyond base of antenna, ventral scales on 1st and 2nd segments long, not shaggy, 3rd segment closely scaled. Haustellum coiled between labial palpi. Antenna narrowly bipectinate for basal 3/4, each ramus tipped with long setae, apical 1/4 ciliate with short setae, dorsal surface alternating fuscous and smoky, closely scaled, ventral surface naked, brown. Thorax: collar black, sometimes preceded by brown, dorsum smoky brown gray, longitudinal narrow black lines anteriorly, posteriorly, and laterally, tegula smoky brown gray, scales strap-like; underside smoky dark gray brown, laterally smoky, scales erect long hair-like or narrowly forked. Legs: dark smoky gray brown, closely scaled, except lateral margin with shaggy scales, tarsomere apex yellow. Forewing: length 14–18 mm, mean 16 mm, n = 16; dorsal surface ground color smoky gray brown, sometimes slightly hoary; antemedial line obscure, pale basally, black mesally, sinuous; postmedial line vague, sinuous, black basally outer element pale; subterminal line a series of fuscous bars; terminal line narrow, black; orbicular spot absent or vaguely pale; reniform spot inconspicuous, dark with pale outline; costa brown except white shade at apex; subreniform spot fuscous, contrasting; dark line from apex running obliquely toward reniform spot; fringe smoky gray. Ventral surface: smoky dark gray black, apical markings similar to dorsal surface, fringe concolorous. Hindwing dorsal surface: dark smoky gray, slightly paler basally, markings absent, fringe pale smoky. Ventral surface: apex to tornus dark smoky gray, tornus pale gray along inner margin, base pale gray, markings absent, fringe pale gray. Abdomen: dorsum smoky gray, with fuscous tufts on first and second segments, elsewhere closely scaled, underside pale smoky gray. Genitalia (Fig. 14): Uncus broad, flattened, setose, apex bluntly pointed, dorsally with narrow ridge, ventrally with two short cornutus-like spines; socii broad, setose, bent at approximately 90°, with one ear-like dorsal projection; tegumen flattened; saccus short, broadly U-shaped; juxta shield shaped, dorsal margin a half circular cutout; diaphragma bearing two sclerotized processes (costulae) near bases of valvae costa, bent at 90°, bent and swollen club-like apically (Fig. 15), valve setose, dorsally sclerotized, ventrally membranous, Barth’s Organ large, with many chevron-shaped parallel pleats, cucullus not well differentiated, with three narrow, curved ridges, corona with weak, mesally-directed curved setae. Aedeagus (Fig. 16) straight, anterior end abruptly flared out, posteriorly flattened, spoon-shaped; vesica lightly sclerotized, subbasal diverticulum with a nipple-shaped cornutus; a patch of deciduous (may be dislodged during mating) stellate (like a starfish) spicule-shaped cornuti; basal diverticula lightly sclerotized, with two finger-like subbasal diverticulae.
Adult female (Fig. 6). Similar to male except; antenna filiform, without long setae, top of head yellow to orange, collar to disc of thorax yellow to orange. Forewing length 15–18 mm, mean 17 mm, n = 11. Genitalia (Fig. 21). Papilla anales membranous, setose, partially hidden from view between sclerotized extensions of ninth abdominal segment. Posterior apophyses slender. Anterior apophyses slender. Ductus bursae short, broad. Corpus bursae round, with a single shark tooth-shaped signum; sclerotized ventral wall forming a thumb-like extension with bulbous terminus; sclerotized dorsal wall with a pock-marked, finger-like extension appressed to surface of corpus bursae.
Elasmia cave was mistakenly identified in the U.S. as Elasmia insularis. The costulae of the male genitalia, figured in (Torre and Alayo 1959) from Cuba and noted in the diagnosis, separate the species. Elasmia cave is placed in the genus Elasmia Möschler, 1886, because the imago is closely similar to Elasmia lignosa, and the male genitalia are closely similar to those of Elasmia mandela.
Distribution and biology
Elasmia cave occurs in the U.S. in New Mexico and Texas; its distribution in Mexico is not known. Three specimens were collected in riparian habitats in Texas and New Mexico. Two specimens from Alpine, Texas and one from Big Bend, Texas, leg. Poling, have additional handwritten labels that say “Buckeye” or “bred Buckeye” respectively. The type locality was selected because it will be protected by the U.S. National Park Service into perpetuity.
- Metzler, E; Knudson, E; 2011: A new species of Elasmia Möschler from New Mexico and Texas, and a new subspecies of Elasmia mandela (Druce) from Texas and Oklahoma (Lepidoptera, Notodontidae, Nystaleinae) ZooKeys, 149: 51-67. doi
- Torre S, Alayo P (1959) Revision de las Notodontidae de Cuba, con la descripcion de dos nuevas especies. Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba, 60 pp.