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Tmetolophota unica
Tmetolophota unica male.jpg
Tmetolophota unica female.jpg
Scientific classification
T. unica
Binomial name
Tmetolophota unica
(Walker, 1856)
  • Leucania unica Walker, 1856
  • Ichneutica unica (Walker, 1856)
  • Nonagria juncicolor Guenee, 1856

Tmetolophota unica is a species of moth in the family Noctuidae. It is endemic to New Zealand. This moth is very similar in appearance to its close relative Tmetolophota phaula.


This species was first described by Francis Walker in 1856 using material collected at Waikouaiti by P. Earl and named Leucania unica . In 1868 Achille Guenée, thinking he was describing a new species, named the species Nonagria juncicolor. George Hudson discussed and illustrated this species under the name Leucania unica both in his 1898 book New Zealand moths and butterflies (Macro-lepidoptera), and his 1928 publication The Butterflies and Moths of New Zealand. In his 1898 publication Hudson synonymised the name given to the species by Guenée. In 1971 John S. Dugdale transferred all the New Zealand species in the genus Leucania to the genus Tmetolophota. The holotype specimen is held at the Natural History Museum, London. In 2019 Robert J. B. Hoare published a paper in which he undertook a major review of New Zealand noctuids. Hoare, having inspected the type material of this species, placed it within the genus Ichneutica.


Edward Meyrick described the species as follows:

Male, female. — 34-35 mm. Head, palpi, antennae, thorax, abdomen, and legs whitish-ochreous, slightly brownish-tinged ; antennae in male moderately bipectinated, pectinations strongly ciliated. Forewings moderately dilated, costa almost straight, apex obtuse, hindmargin waved, somewhat oblique, rounded beneath ; whitish-ochreous, slightly brownish-tinged, sometimes with a few scattered black scales ; first Iine represented by three pairs of obscure black dots ; a posterior curved series of black dots : cilia whitish-ochreous. Hindwings grey, more or less tinged with whitish-ochreous ; cilia pale whitish-ochreous.

This species is very similar in appearance to T. phaula but do not have the dentate antennae in the male of that species.


20130606 OH H1013410 0010 - Flickr - NZ Defence Force
Tussock habitat of T. unica at Waiouru

This species is endemic to New Zealand. It has been found in the North Island at Waiouru and Ohakune and in the South Island at Blenheim, Raikaia, Quail Island, Dunedin, Lake Wakatipu, Alexandra and Macetown.

Biology and behaviour

The species is on the wing from November to February. It has been collected through sugar trapping. This species is also attracted to light and specimens have been collected through light trapping. It has been shown that artificial warming increases the body size of this moth.

Habitat and host species

This species prefers open tussock habitat. The larvae of this moth are herbivorous and feed on the leaves of grasses including those in the genus Poa.

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