Aseptis torreyana Mustelin, 2006

Mustelin, Tomas & Crabo, Lars G., 2015, Revision of the genus Aseptis McDunnough (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae, Noctuinae, Xylenini) with a description of two new genera, Paraseptis and Viridiseptis, ZooKeys 527, pp. 57-102: 73-75

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Aseptis torreyana Mustelin, 2006


Taxon classification Animalia Lepidoptera Noctuidae

Aseptis torreyana Mustelin, 2006  Figs 39, 69

Aseptis torreyana  Mustelin, 2006: 29.

Type material.

Holotype male [ SDNHM, examined]. Type locality: Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla, California.


This is the smallest and rarest Aseptis  (wingspan 27.5 mm). It has a pale buff forewing overlaid with pale gray scales and marked with black basal dash and outlines of the three spots. The reniform spot is the largest and is filled with dark scales. The pale postmedial line is barely visible while the antemedial line is missing. The strong black basal dash gives the impression of a small pale Paraseptis adnixa  .

Males of Aseptis torreyana  have a narrow S-shaped valve with an ampulla of the clasper that is oriented toward the apex of the valve, a small digitus that arises near the ventral attachment of the clasper and is oriented perpendicular to the valve, and a small rounded cucullus. The aedeagus and vesica resemble those of Aseptis binotata  . The female is unknown.

This species is unlikely to be confused with any other Aseptis  because of its small size and isolated habitat. It resembles a pale Aseptis serrula  , although the markings of Aseptis torreyana  are more distinct. The male antenna of Aseptis torreyana  is filiform rather than serrate. Aseptis torreyana  is also reminiscent of Aseptis characta  (Grote) but is easily distinguished from it by the present of a digitus on the male valve.

Distribution and biology.

This species is known only from the south side of the sea level salt marsh estuary of the Torrey Pines State Reserve. The habitat is most likely salt marsh, although it could be coastal chaparral. The capture date of April 21 is in line with the spring flight period of most Aseptis  species in southern California. The foodplant is unknown.


Aseptis torreyana  is enigmatic because of its rarity. It was discovered in a small isolated coastal chaparral remnant bordering the salt marsh within Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California. Only two males were ever found, both at this locality on the same night, despite a two-year moth survey by Norris Bloomfield and the senior author. The latter also ran a blacklight nearly every night for five years at the rim of the Peñasquitos Canyon, which runs into the same estuary 5 miles east of the type locality without finding additional specimens. Similarly, none were found at the nearby Miramar Air Station that was surveyed extensively for Lepidoptera  for years with same traps ( Brown and Bash 2000). Taken together, it appears that Aseptis torreyana  is very local, perhaps tied to a food plant in the salt marsh. Another example of such a restricted species is Orthomoia bloomfieldi  Mustelin that was described from 30 specimens from a single locality during the Miramar study.