Texas Lep Information

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Northern Giant Flag Moth

Dysschema howardi (Hy. Edwards, [1887])

Family Arctiidae, Subfamily Arctiinae, Tribe Pericopini

cf Dysschema mariamne

Northern Giant Flag Moth - Dysschema howardi (Hy. Edwards, [1887])

Male at Chisos Mountain Lodge

Big Bend National Park 
Brewster County, Texas
August 2005 (Lynne Weber)


Northern Giant Flag Moth - Dysschema howardi (Hy. Edwards, [1887])

Female at Chisos Mountain Lodge

Big Bend National Park 
Brewster County, Texas
August 2004 (Lynne Weber)

(All photos not to same scale)

Northern Giant Flag Moth - Dysschema howardi (Hy. Edwards, [1887])Northern Giant Flag Moth - Dysschema howardi (Hy. Edwards, [1887])

Female (L), Male (R) at Chisos Mountain Lodge, (note antennal differences)

Big Bend National Park 
Brewster County, Texas
August 2004, August 2005 (Lynne Weber)


Northern Giant Flag Moth - Dysschema howardi (Hy. Edwards, [1887])

Male at Chisos Mountain Lodge

Big Bend National Park 
Brewster County, Texas
August 2005 (Lynne Weber)

Texas County Records for Dysschema howardi

Northern Giant Flag Moth - Dysschema howardi (H. Edwards, [1887])

Texas Counties: Brewster, Culberson, Jeff Davis, & Presidio

Wider Distribution Map: Dysschema howardi - USGS

Range: Arizona, New Mexico, Trans-Pecos; Mexico

Was common in the Davis Mountains of Texas in 1999 (Eric H. Metzler, pers. comm.) and again in 2005 (James K. Adams, pers. comm.)
Gregory Forbes (pers. comm.) reports that this species seems to occur widely in New Mexico, but can rarely be expected.

Flight Period: June-August

Caterpillar Foodplants: 

Brickellia californica (T. & G.) Gray, Family Asteraceae.
Eupatorium rugosum Houtt. - in Lab (McFarland, 1961)
Vernonia patens Kunth, Family Asteraceae served as a host for Dysschema leucophaea per Young (1981)

Type Locality: Silver City, Grant County, New Mexico. (Cary, 2002)


Pericopis howardi
Daritis howardi
Hy. Edwards, 1887
Daritis thetis, Klug, var. howardi Hy. Edwards

Similar Species:

Mariamne's Giant Flag Moth - Dysschema mariamne (Geyer, [1835]) 
Images of Genus Dysschema
- Area De Conservación Guanacaste (ACG)
Some 90 Neotropical species of Dysschema primarily occur in South America

Other Texas Pericopini: 

Dysschema leucophaea (Walker, 1854)
Gnophaela aequinoctialis (Walker, 1854)
Phaloesia saucia Walker, 1854


Adults - Bruce Walsh - The Moths of Southeastern Arizona
Larva - Mike Singer
- BugGuide.Net


Flag Moth - A name coined for the subfamily Pericopinae by Hogue (1993) due to their large, boldly patterned wings.
dys (G). Bad, malicious, hard
=schema, -t, -to (G). Form, shape


Winslow Howard was an important early amateur naturalist in the western United States and the first resident butterfly collector in New Mexico. Steve Cary (2002) pieced together Winslow Howard's "faint footprints" including the following history pertaining to Howard's collection of what became Dysschema howardi:

"During Howard's time in New Mexico, he was linked to University of Kansas entomologist Francis H. Snow. In August 1884, Prof. Snow and his students visited Silver City to collect insects (Cary & Holland 2002). Reporting on this expedition, Snow (1885:65) acknowledged "Mr. W. J. Howard of Silver City for many favors." Snow reported 13 butterflies and long lists of moths and beetles, remarking that the "electric lights at Silver City were very attractive to insects" (Snow 1885:69). One particular moth was listed as "Daritis sp. a superb species obtained from Mr. W. J. Howard, Silver City" (Snow 1885:66). For identification of unfamiliar Lepidoptera collected on this expedition, Snow (1885:65) relied on Henry Edwards. In describing the new moth as "Daritis thetis, Klug, var. Howardi" (Arctiidae: Pericopinae), Edwards (1886 [1887]: 165) noted that "About 2 years ago, I received from Mr. Wilson [sic] Howard, two specimens of this magnificent moth, which had been taken by him in New Mexico." Linkage of the type specimens from their collection by Howard, through Snow, to Edwards' description of D. howardi now warrants restriction of its type locality to Silver City, Grant County, New Mexico. No other patronyms were traced to Winslow J. Howard."


Aiello, A. & K.S. Brown, Jr. 1987 [1988]. Mimicry by illusion in a sexually dimorphic, day-flying moth, Dysschema jansonis (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae: Pericopinae). The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 26(1-4): 173-176.

Borror, D.J. 1960. Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms. National Press Books, Palo Alto. 134 pp.

Cary, S.J. 2002. Winslow L. Howard: pioneer New Mexico naturalist. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 56(2): 49-52.

Cary, S.J., & R. Holland. 2002. Francis H. Snow's New Mexico butterfly collections. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 56(3): 151-161.

Bethune, C.J.S., W. Saunders, E.B. Reed, and others. 1867. The Canadian Entomologist. Entomological Society of America, London. 244 pp.

Druce, H. 1881-1900. Pericopidae. Pp. 105-112, In: Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Lepidoptera-Heterocera. Volume III . R.H. Porter, London. Pl. 77, fig 24. pg. 395.

Dyar 1900. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 4: 407.

Edwards, H. 1886 [1887]. Apparently new forms of N. American Heterocera. Entomologica Americana 2(9): 165-166.

Hering, M. 1925. Arctiidae: Percopinae Pp. 425-455, In: A. Seitz, (editor), 1940. The Macrolepidoptera of the World. Division II: The Macrolepidoptera of the American Region. Volume VI: The American Bombyces and Sphinges. Stuttgart. 1304 pp.

Hogue, C. 1993. Latin American Insects and Entomology. University of California Press, Berkeley. xiv + 594 pp.

Holland, W.J. 1903. The Moth Book: A Popular Guide to a Knowledge of the Moths of North America. Doubleday, Page, & Co., N.Y. xxiv + 479 pp.

Jacobson, N.L., & S.J. Weller. 2002. A cladistic study of the tiger moth family Arctiidae (Noctuoidea) based on larval and adult morphology. Thomas Say Publications in Entomology: Monographs. Entomological Society of America. 98 pp.

Knudson, E. & C. Bordelon. 2003. Pub. 3: Checklist of Big Bend National Park. Texas Lepidoptera Survey, Houston. (treats 1300 species, 12 color plates).

Knudson, E. & C. Bordelon. 2003. Pub. 7: Checklist of Davis Mountains, TX. Texas Lepidoptera Survey, Houston. (treats 1100 species, 10 color plates).  

Knudson, E. & C. Bordelon. 2004. Illustrated Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX. Vol. 2B : Macro-Moths. Texas Lepidoptera Survey, Houston. xiv + 59 pp. 20 plates.

McFarland, N. 1961. Notes on the early stages of Daritis (howardi?) (Pericopidae) from Cameron Peak, New Mexico. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 15(3): 172-174.

Snow, F.H. 1885. Lists of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera collected in New Mexico by the Kansas University scientific expeditions of 1883 and 1884. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science IX:65-69.

Watson, A. & D.T. Goodger. 1986. Catalogue of the Neotropical Tiger Moths. Occasional papers on Systematic Entomology of the British Museum (Natural History), 1: 1-71.

Weller, S.J., N.L. Jacobson & W.E. Conner. 1999. The evolution of chemical defences and mating systems in tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 68, 557-578.

Young, A.M. 1981. Notes on the moth Pericopis leucophaea Walker (Lepidoptera: Pericopidae) as a defoliator of the tree Vernonia patens H.B.K. (Compositae) in northeastern Costa Rica. New York Entomological Society Journal 89: 204-213.

26 Aug 2007  © Mike Quinn / mike.quinn@tpwd.state.tx.us / Texas Entomology / Texas Lep Information / Diurnal Moths