Protogygia whitesandsensis Metzler & Forbes

Metzler, Eric, Bustos, David & Forbes, Gregory, 2009, The Lepidoptera of White Sands National Monument, Otero County, New Mexico, USA 1. Two new species of Noctuidae (Lepidoptera, Noctuinae, Agrotini), ZooKeys 9 (9), pp. 47-62: 54-57

publication ID 10.3897/zookeys.9.182

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scientific name

Protogygia whitesandsensis Metzler & Forbes

sp. n.

Protogygia whitesandsensis Metzler & Forbes   , sp. n.

Figs. 13, 17, 19, 20

Type material. Holotype: Male : USA: NM: Otero Co. White Sands Nat [ional] Mon [ument] interdunal vegetation 32 o 46.62' N 106 o 10.82' W 4,008' 26 February 2009 Eric H. Metzler WHSAD uv tr[a]p Accession #: WHSA – 00131. ( USNM) GoogleMaps   . Paratypes: 18 males as follows: USA, NM: Otero County, White Sands National Monument (hereafter WSNM), interdunal vegetation 106 o 11.49' W 4,000' 32 o 45.60' N 15 Mar 2008 WSNMB Eric H. Metzler uv trp Accession GoogleMaps   # WHSA 00131. WSNM, interdunal vegetation, 32 o 45.57' N 4,000' 106 o 11.59' W gypsum 12 Mar 2007 WHSA 2 Eric H. Metzler Accession GoogleMaps   # WHSA 00131. WSNM, interdunal vegetation 32 o 46.62' N 106 o 10.82' W 4,008' 26 Feb 2009 Eric H. Metzler WHSAD uv trp Accession GoogleMaps   #: WHSA – 00131. WSNM, interdunal vegetation 106 o 11.59' W 32 o 45.57' N 4006' 15 Mar 2008 uv trp WSNM 2 Eric H. Metzler Accession GoogleMaps   # WHSA – 00131. WSNM, interdunal vegetation 106 o 11.33' W 32 o 45.5' N 4004' uv trp 6 Apr 2008 Eric H. Metzler WSNMA Accession GoogleMaps   # WHSA – 00131. WSNM, edge of dunes vegetation 32 o 45.72' N 106 o 11.32' W 4,000' WSNM 9 26 Feb 2009 uv trp Eric H. Metzler Accession GoogleMaps   # WHSA – 00131. WSNM, interdunal vegetation 32 o 45.60' N 106 o 11.49' W 4,000' 26 Feb 2009 Eric H. Metzler uv trp WSNMB Accession GoogleMaps   # WHSA – 00131. WSNM, 106 o 11.59' W 32 o 45.57' N 4006' 12 Mar 2008 WSNM 2 Eric H. Metzler Accesn GoogleMaps   # WHSA – 00131 GoogleMaps   . Paratypes are deposited in NMSU, MSWB, MSU, EHM, CNC, USNM, and WHSA.

Etymology. The specific epithet of this species, whitesandsensis   (-ensis is a Latin suffix denoting “place, locality”) identifies the white gypsum dunes at White Sands National Monument as the type locality. The name recognizes the importance of White Sands National Monument for its unique ecosystem and accompanying biota.

Diagnosis. Protogygia whitesandsensis   is a pale silvery-gray moth without most normal transverse noctuid markings and spots. A combination of 6 characteristics distinguish Protogygia whitesandsensis   from other species of Protogygia   : 1) pectinations of male antenna are 9.6 × width of antenna whereas pectinations of male antenna of P. pectinata Lafontaine, 2004   (Fig. 14) are 7 × width of antenna; those of P. biclavis  

(Grote, 1879) (Fig. 16) are 2 × width of antenna; those of P. comstocki McDunnough, 1934   (Fig. 15) are 1.5 × width of antenna; 2) fore wing color pale silvery gray; 3) fore wing with dark and white streaks from the base to the medial area, postmedial area, and outer margin; basal dashes of P. pectinata   , P. comstocki   and P. biclavis   extend to antemedial area; 4) forewing with a prominent white shade in the cell between the base and the reniform spot; 5) adults fly in February and March in the gypsum dunes in the Tularosa Basin of south central New Mexico; 6) adults most closely resemble P. pectinata   . The colors of P. whitesandsensis   are more gray and muted than P. pectinata   . The colors of P. pectinata   are more brown and contrasting than P. whitesandsensis   .

In Lafontaine and Fauske (2004) this species easily keys out to P. pectinata   , but P. whitesandsensis   has wider antennae, less orange on the forewing, less contrasting veins, and a different distribution.

Description. Adult male (Fig. 13): Head – vertex, narrow and narrow hair-like scales, white, occasional black scales, erect; front, narrow hair-like scales, white, a narrow band of scales across the front between the eyes, black, hair-like; labial palpus white with black scales, blackened laterally; basal and medial segments erect, hair-like scales, shaggy; apical segment angled anteriorly, closely scaled dorsally and anteriorly, white; haustellum coiled between labial palpi with more than four complete loops; antenna broadly bipectinate, dorsally white, scattered black scales, pectinations and ventral surface naked, dark brown. Thorax – color white, scattered black scales; tegula white, scattered black scales, laterally and mesally lined with black; dorsum white, scattered black scales, mid-dorsal black stripe; underside white, mixed with black scales, hair-like, long erect, shaggy appearance. Legs: coxa and femur white mixed with black giving a dirty appearance, closely scaled with long hair-like scales on ventral surface forming a shaggy fringe, fore tibia and mid-tibia black terminus, tarsomeres similarly white with black scales, each tarsomere terminus ringed with black. Fore wing: length 14-17 mm, mean 15.2 mm, n = 14. pale silvery gray; basal line, antemedial line, medial shade, postmedial line, claviform spot, and orbicular spot absent; prominent sub costal white shade in cell from base to reniform spot; basal dash, 3 elements, black, prominent, from base to reniform spot, white, not prominent, from base to medial area, black, not prominent, from base to antemedial area; subterminal line black, contrasting, zig zag from costa to inner margin; radial, medial, cubital, and anal veins lined with white; reniform lower and upper lobes lined with white; terminal line vaguely white; fringe, base marked with black scales, otherwise white; underside pale silvery gray, dusky shade in cell, veins variously lined with white, fringe concolorous. Hind wing: pale gray; veins variously lined with white or darker gray scales; discal spot dark gray; fringe, base concolorous, outer half white; underside concolorous; discal spot absent; fringe concolorous. Abdomen – dorsum light gray mixed with black scales, closely scaled, overlaid with long hair-like scales; underside of segments 3, 4, and 5 black and white contrasting, gray elsewhere with admixture of black scales. Genitalia (Fig. 17) – tegumen widened laterally, narrowed dorsally; uncus widened mesally, abruptly down-turned and pointed apically, long hairs dorsally; vinculum V shaped; valve strap-like slightly wider in saccular area, apex with dense setae, directed basad on mesial surface; clavus length 3 × width; clasper sinuous, tear drop shaped, ending in drawn-out point apically; aedeagus slightly bent at middle; vesica bent to right, base of vesica with 6 or 7 stout setae; subbasal diverticulum short with one stout terminal seta.

Adult female: unknown.

Remarks. This new species is placed in the genus Protogygia   based on the male genitalia, and the adult male’s close resemblance to P. pectinata   .

Distribution and biology. Protogygia whitesandsensis   occurs in White Sands National Monument, Otero County, New Mexico (Figs. 19, 20). Adults were collected in black light traps placed within the gypsum dunes. Females and the immature stages are unknown.


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


White Sands National Monument


Northwest Missouri State University


Michigan State University Museum


Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids, and Nematodes