Litocala sexsignata

Geographic Range

Litocala moths are found in small populations west of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Their range extends into southern California and east through Montana, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and western Texas. Litocala moths can be found as far south as Baja California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, Mexico. In the Pacific Northwest, they are most common in Oregon, but occur in a small area of Washington from Yakima County to the Columbia Gorge. ("Species Litocala sexsignata - Litocala Moth - Hodges#8597", 2021; "Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)", 2021a; "Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)", 2021b)


Litocala moths are uncommon throughout most of their range. They are found at low elevations in oak woods or mixed hardwood-oak forests and at higher elevations in hardwood-conifer forests, such as in the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges. ("Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)", 2021a)

  • Range elevation
    167 to 1463 m
    547.90 to 4799.87 ft

Physical Description

Relatively little is known about Litocala moth caterpillars, as they are difficult to find and uncommon in most of their range. However, illustrations from old sightings depict a smooth caterpillar with a mottled brown pattern and a line of lateral hairs on both sides.

Adult litocala moths have dark brown or gray forewings with a mottled design resembling bands of color similar to tree rings. Their forewings measure between 15 and 16 mm on average. Their hindwings have a characteristic set of three cream-white spots, which appear on both the ventral and dorsal sides. Both males and females have simple antennae. ("Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)", 2021a)

  • Average wingspan
    15-16 mm


Litocala moths undergo complete metamorphosis, meaning they transition from an egg to a caterpillar, then to a pupa, and finally to an adult moth. It is currently unknown if there are any additional developmental processes specific to this species.


There is currently no research regarding the specific mating systems of litocala moths.

There is currently no research regarding the specific reproductive strategies of litocala moths. However, this species likely reaches sexual maturity upon emergence as an adult. Following reproduction, females lay eggs and no further parental investment has been reported.

Litocala moths exhibit no parental investment following the laying of fertilized eggs.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


There is currently no research regarding the lifespan or longevity of litocala moths.


Litocala moths are diurnal. Adult moths are most commonly observed in the spring. ("Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)", 2021a; Minahan, 1934)

Communication and Perception

There is currently no research regarding the communication and perception mechanisms of litocala moths.

Food Habits

Litocala moths are found in oak (Quercus L. spp.) forests, or mixed-hardwood tree forests with chinquapins (Chrysolepis spp.), which are the main larval hostplants. In California, popular host plants include canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis) and Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana). ("Litocala Moth", 2021; "Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)", 2021a)

Suspected host plants include: Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), blue oak (Quercus douglasii), black oak (Quercus kelloggii), engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii), valley oak (Quercus lobata), scrub oak (Quercus berberidifolia), Nuttall's scrub oak (Quercus dumosa), leather oak (Quercus durata), island oak (Quercus tomentella), leather oak (Quercus durata var. durata), interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni), Garry's oak (Quercus garryana var. breweri), shreve oak (Quercus parvula var. shrevei), Muller oak (Quercus cornelius-mulleri), Santa Cruz island oak (Quercus parvula), giant chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), island scrub oak (Quercus pacifica), interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni var. frutescens), grey oak (Quercus turbinella), coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia), Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana var. garryana), bush chinquapin (Chrysolepis sempervirens), desert oak (Quercus palmeri), golden chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla var. chrysophylla), Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana var. semota), giant chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla var. minor), Tucker's oak (Quercus john-tuckeri), San Gabriel oak (Quercus durata var. gabrielensis), coastal live oak (Quercus agrifolia var. oxyadenia), Santa Cruz island oak (Quercus parvula var. parvula), Tamalpais oak (Quercus parvula var. tamalpaisensis), Cedros island oak (Quercus cedrosensis), MacDonald's oak (Quercus macdonaldii), Alvord oak (Quercus alvordiana) ("Litocala Moth", 2021)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves


There is currently no research regarding the specific predators of litocala moths. However, it is likely that both larvae and adults serve as prey for birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, and other insects.

Ecosystem Roles

There is currently no research regarding the specific ecosystem roles that litocala moths serve. However, they do eat the leaves of common host trees including oaks (Quercus L. spp.) and chinquapins (Chrysolepis spp.), and they likely serve as a source of food for other animals in their communities.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is currently no research documenting positive economic impacts that litocala moths serve.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is currently no research documenting negative economic impacts that litocala moths serve.

Conservation Status

Litocala moths have no special status on the IUCN Red List, CITES, or the U.S. Federal List. However, they are considered to be sensitive, and are easily impacted by forest management and habitat degradation. More research is required to determine accurate population sizes and conservation status. ("Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)", 2021a)

Other Comments

Litocala sexsignata does not have an official common name, but is considered monotypic as it is the only species in its genus. With the absence of a well-known common name, the moth is sometimes referred to by its genus and called the Litocala moth. This species account will use this stand-in common name until the species becomes more commonly discussed.


Claire Walther (author), Special Projects, Galen Burrell (editor), Special Projects.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


California Native Plant Society. 2021. "Litocala Moth" (On-line). Calscape. Accessed October 08, 2021 at

Metalmark Web and Data. 2021. "Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)" (On-line). Butterflies and Moths of North America. Accessed October 22, 2021 at

2021. "Litocala sexsignata (Harvey, 1875)" (On-line). Pacific Northwest Moths. Accessed October 07, 2021 at

Iowa State University Department of Entomology. 2021. "Species Litocala sexsignata - Litocala Moth - Hodges#8597" (On-line). BugGuide. Accessed October 07, 2021 at

Minahan, R. 1934. The distribution of Macrolepidoptera, suborder Heterocera, in zonal areas of San Gabriel Mountains. MAI 54/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International; University of Southern California, n/a: 1-200. Accessed October 23, 2021 at