Zale lunata vs. Zale minerea

Zale lunata and Zale minerea are common widespread moths in the United States and Canada, and the two are often confused. Both have multiple phenotypes, and the variation in coloration within each species is far greater than color differences between them. Here is a comparison of the forms from the Northeast:

You'll notice that lunata is consistently larger than minerea, but this doesn't help much when identifying photos of individual moths. The palps are also different in length, but the easiest way to tell them apart is by looking for the "double lobe" in the PM line which is present in lunata but absent in minerea. Here's an image showing this difference highlighted:

Of course, there are dozens of other Zales out there too, so one can't rule out every other Zale species with this rule. In particular, galbanata looks like a paler version of minerea in some of its forms, and it often gets confused with minerea (though you should never confuse it with lunata, as it lacks the bilobed PM line.) But if you're fairly certain you've got a minerea/lunata, this is a pretty consistent way to figure which one it is.

Posted on April 20, 2018 09:36 PM by paul_dennehy paul_dennehy


@paul_dennehy , great job on these moth ID's -- I really do appreciate you going through so many of them and correcting many of my mistake ID's! :)

Posted by sambiology about 5 years ago (Flag)

Thanks Paul for posting this. I find these two especially confusing:-)

Posted by conuropsis about 5 years ago (Flag)

Thanks for posting this and help with identifications on some of my observations.

Posted by friel about 5 years ago (Flag)

Thanks for the work. All the Zale spp are very hard to identify - nice to have one or two concrete guidelines.

Posted by mamestraconfigurata about 5 years ago (Flag)

Excellent, thanks Paul. I just called all of mine lunata; now I have 1 minerea.

Posted by krancmm about 5 years ago (Flag)

I've referred to this excellent post many times for help in identifying Zales. Unfortunately, it looks like the image links aren't currently working. When you get a chance, could you please relink them? Thanks!

Posted by jenniferwhanson 10 months ago (Flag)

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