Tyta luctuosa is a noctuid ("owlet") moth. Its common names include four-spotted moth and field bindweed moth. It is the only member of the genus Tyta, which forms a hitherto monotypic tribe Tytini in the Catocalinae subfamily. The species was first described by Michael Denis and Ignaz Schiffermüller in 1775. The genus was erected by Gustaf Johan Billberg in 1820 and the tribe was described by Herbert Beck in 1996.
This moth is native to much of the Palearctic - most of Europe east to the Caucasus, Kazakhstan and from Siberia to China and south to North Africa. The adult moth is about eleven millimeters long and dark brown with one large white spot on each of its four wings.
Technical description and variation
Its forewings are purplish fuscous, becoming paler, and more brownish, towards the termen, and sometimes at the extreme base; the lines black, fine; the inner oblique, thrice waved; the outer excurved above middle, incurved below; subterminal line pale, preceded by a darker shade; fringe white with a dark patch below middle; an abbreviated white band from costa to vein 3 beyond cell, sometimes tinged with tannish peach; hindwing with a white median band of varying width; in ab. angustifascia ab. nov. this band is greatly restricted and sometimes interrupted; the examples in which the white costal blotch of forewing is tinged with flesh colour constitute the ab. ochracea Tutt. The larva are grey, sometimes reddish grey and darker at the sides; hues pale with dark edges somewhat interrupted; spiracular line dark brown, pale edge; beneath; subspiracular reddish brown; face ochreous grey with rows of small dark dots. The first two pairs of prolegs are shorter than usual.
Two adult generations emerge each year, one in late spring and one in summer. In warm areas there is often a third generation. The female lays about 400 to 500 eggs. The larva is a brown caterpillar. The larva is the destructive stage. It eats leaves and flowers, especially new buds. This is the desired effect of this moth when it is used as an agent of biological pest control against field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis). It was first introduced into the United States in the 1980s to attack this agricultural weed, which is its main food plant.
- Newman, Edward (1868). "The Life-history of Dysthymia luctuosa". The Entomologist. 4: 174 – via Biodiversity Heritage Library.
- Pitkin, Brian & Jenkins, Paul (5 November 2004). "Dysthymia Newman, 1868". Butterflies and Moths of the World. Natural History Museum, London. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
- Warren. W. in Seitz, A. Ed., 1914 Die Großschmetterlinge der Erde, Verlag Alfred Kernen, Stuttgart Band 3: Abt. 1, Die Großschmetterlinge des palaearktischen Faunengebietes, Die palaearktischen eulenartigen Nachtfalter, 1914 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Coombs, E. M., et al., Eds. (2004). Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the United States. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 155.
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