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Sand-verbena Moth (Copablepharon Fuscum)

COSEWIC Status Report
on the
Sand-verbena Moth
Copablepharon fuscum
in Canada

Species Information

Name and Classification

Scientific name:
Copablepharon fuscum Troubr. & Crabo, [1996]

Moths of North America (MONA) Number: 10692.2

Bibliographic Citation:  Troubridge, J.T. and L.G. Crabo. 1996. A new species of Copablepharon (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) from British Columbia and Washington. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 92: 87–90.

Type Specimens:  Holotype male: USA, Washington, Island County, Deception Pass State Park, 26 May,1995, Troubridge and Crabo in the Canadian National Collection (CNC). Paratypes (16 males, 18 females): 15 males, 15 females, same data as holotype; 1 female, 1 July, 1994, Saanichton, B.C., Troubridge; 1 male, 2 females, 1 July, 1995, Saanichton, B.C., Troubridge.

English Names:
Sand-verbena Moth
French Name:
Noctuelle de l’abronie des dunes

Taxonomic Background and Similarities:  Fifteen species in the genus Copablepharon have been described in North America north of Mexico. Seven of these have been recorded in Canada and three in British Columbia. C. fuscum is the only species known from west of the Cascade Mountains. The genus is currently being revised by D. Lafontaine (Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes) and the number of described species is anticipated to increase. The taxonomy of C. fuscum will not be affected by this revision (J.T. Troubridge pers. comm., 2002). Most Copablepharon species are found in arid, sandy or dune environments and have narrow distribution ranges (J.T. Troubridge, pers. comm., 2002). The closest Copablepharon species geographically to C. fuscum is Copablepharon absidum (Harv.), which occurs at one site near Osoyoos, B.C. and in dunes in Washington, northern Oregon and central Idaho (Troubridge and Crabo, 1995). Another species, Copablepharon hopfingeri Francl., has also been recorded in arid, sandy soils in northeastern Washington and one site in southeastern British Columbia. It has been extirpated from British Columbia (Lafontaine and Troubridge, 1998).



Copablepharon fuscum is a dark to golden brown noctuid moth with distinctive black and pale yellow forewing lines (Figures figure1a and figure1b). The forewing is 17-19 mm long and slightly darker than the thorax. The trailing margin is gray-brown and the costa and anal margin is white. The medial vein is edged with a pale yellow or white line anteriorly and a diffuse black line posteriorly. A shorter and more diffuse black line is located nearer the apex of the forewing. A second pale yellow line borders the cubital vein. There is a series of irregular black dots located along the subterminal line. The hindwing is dark gray-brown, fading to very light gray or white basally. Overall pigmentation is variable among individuals and southern populations appear to be darker than northern populations (Figure 2). Males and females are similar in colouration, wing patterning and size (total wingspan varying from 35-40 mm).

There are no superficially similar moth species in British Columbia, and field determination based on external features (e.g., forewing colour patterns) is reliable. Troubridge and Crabo (1995) provided a detailed technical summary of adult morphology in their initial species description, including information on male and female genitalia. It is provided in Appendix 1.


Eggs are deposited singly or in groups on the exterior of Abronia latifolia (yellow sand-verbena) leaves or flowers. Their structure has not been described.


Larvae are green in early instars and brown in later instars with longitudinal pale stripes and a light brown head capsule (Figure 1c).


Pupae are dark brown and are about 20 mm in length (Figure 1d). They have a distinctive external compartment (exarate haustellum) for the development of the proboscis. A fragile layer of sand particles protects the pupa.

Figure 1a:  Adult, Larval and Pupal Stages of C. fuscum -- Live Adult Moth on A. latifolia Stem

Figure 1a: Adult, larval and pupal stages of C. fuscum -- live adult moth on A. latifolia stem.

Photo provided by J. Tatum.

Figure 1b: Adult, Larval and Pupal Stages of C. fuscum -- Adult Moth from J.T. Troubridge Collection

Figure 1b: Adult, larval and pupal stages of C. fuscum -- adult moth from J.T. Troubridge collection.

Photo by N.A. Page.

Figure 1c: Adult, Larval and Pupal Stages of C. fuscum -- Late Instar Larva Feeding on A. latifolia Flower

Figure 1c: Adult, larval and pupal stages of C. fuscum -- late instar larva feeding on A. latifolia flower.

Photo by N.A. Page.

Figure 1d: Adult, Larval and Pupal Stages of C. fuscum -- Pupa (note external proboscis)

Figure 1d: Adult, larval and pupal stages of C. fuscum -- pupa (note external proboscis).

Photo provided by J. Tatum.

Figure 2: Example of Colour Range in Adult C. fuscum

Figure 2: Example of colour range in adult C. fuscum. Photo provided by J.T. Troubridge.

Photo provided by J.T. Troubridge.