Chaetaglaea cerata - Franclemont, 1943
Waxed Sallow Moth
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.116339
Element Code: IILEYFM010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Other Moths
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Noctuidae Chaetaglaea
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Hodges, R.W. et al., eds. 1983. Check List of the Lepidoptera of America North of Mexico. E.W. Classey Limited and The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation, London. 284 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B83HOD01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Chaetaglaea cerata
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Sep2003
Global Status Last Changed: 07Aug1997
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Clearly not now globally imperiled, nor is it demonstrably secure and there is evidence of historic decline. Although unknown occurrences certainly exist, well under 100 metapopulations are known and it is possible, that some isolated populations are not long term viable. Survival in West Virginia is tenuous due to massive biocide (esp. Diflubenzuron) use in forests there starting in the late 1980s. There are large areas of potential habitat in Wisconsin and Michigan at least. The species is generally very local, or at least sporadic, east of Ohio but may prove less local on ridge tops in Pennsylvania.
Nation: United States
National Status: NNR
Nation: Canada
National Status: NU (25Oct2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Connecticut (S1S2), Maine (SH), Massachusetts (S1S3), Michigan (SNR), New Hampshire (S1S2), New York (S1S3), Pennsylvania (S2S3), West Virginia (SH)
Canada Ontario (S1?)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Very localized, disjunct distribution; Aweme Manitoba and Wisconsin to Maine, south to central Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, southeast Connecticut and Long Island, New York. Not reported in the Quebec and Ontario book, although Canadian national collection has at least one from Burnt Lands alvar near Ottawa (verified by Schweitzer).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Certainly undiscovered EOs. However absent from many suitable looking habitats. For example not relocated in Maine despite intensive efforts 1984-1996.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Probably over 10,000 at exemplary EO alone, perhaps also on Nantucket. Rare at Albany and many other sites.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Poor fire management or wildfire could destroy some EOs. Fire at any time of year other than summer (mid July-September in much of range) will kill most or all individuals in the affected area. Gypsy moth spraying is a threat at some EOs, although it is likely that older larvae would tolerate BTK based on consistent results with related species.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Has lost a lot of habitat in the past. Also seems to have disappeared from some areas, primarily Maine, where habitat remains.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Should generally persist if adequate habitat remains.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Should be looked for in October, mainly with blacklights.

Protection Needs: Probably adequately protected in MA. Protected EOs in MI desireable, but may exist.

Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Very localized, disjunct distribution; Aweme Manitoba and Wisconsin to Maine, south to central Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, southeast Connecticut and Long Island, New York. Not reported in the Quebec and Ontario book, although Canadian national collection has at least one from Burnt Lands alvar near Ottawa (verified by Schweitzer).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.

Map unavailable!:
Distribution data for U.S. states and Canadian provinces is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed for this taxon.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CT, MA, ME, MI, NH, NY, PA, WV
Canada ON

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Tolland (09013), Windham (09015)
MA Barnstable (25001)*, Bristol (25005)*, Nantucket (25019), Norfolk (25021)*, Plymouth (25023)*
NH Grafton (33009)*, Merrimack (33013), Rockingham (33015)*, Strafford (33017)*
NY Albany (36001), Suffolk (36103)
PA Lackawanna (42069), Luzerne (42079), Monroe (42089), Schuylkill (42107)*
WV Monongalia (54061)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003)+*, Merrimack (01070006)+, Black-Ottauquechee (01080106)+*, Charles (01090001)+*, Cape Cod (01090002)+, Quinebaug (01100001)+, Shetucket (01100002)+
02 Mohawk (02020004)+, Middle Hudson (02020006)+, Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Lackawaxen (02040103)+, Lehigh (02040106)+, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna (02050107)+
05 Upper Monongahela (05020003)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A moth.
General Description: 42-46 mm. Amedium sized fall moth, rather drab but generally similar to other "glaeas" but distinctive in many details. See key in Forbes (1954) and picture in Rings et al.(1992). Should be confirmed by an expert since it has been confused with several other "glaeas". Field photos are never recommended in place of specimens but should suffice and electronic images of pinned specimens with decent light should suffice for identification. Sight records ashouldre to be disregarded. Schweitzer might be able to identify from a last instar larva.
Diagnostic Characteristics: See Rings et al. (1992) plate which shows all three species of this genus. There is virtually no variation in C. cerata. All individuals will match thier Plate XVI:11 very closely in color (rather pale grayish brown), lines (note shape and rust color) and the normal spots. Note in particular the reniform spot tends to be more circular or oval and always lacks a dark spot in its lower end on C. cerata. Epiglaea apiata has somewaht similar lines but is either much paler tan or a much darker brown and often has a dark spot in the reniform.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Mixed, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Selection of forest above is a bit uncertain. While habitats in and near Ohio are little understood, most large EOs elsewhere are barrens or heathlands of some sort. These include jack pine and oak barrens in the upper Midwest and pitch pine-scrub oak barrens and coastal heathlands (which have lots of scrub oak) in New England and New York. Some populations, apparently small ones usually, have been found in NH, OH, and PA in non-barrens habitats. This species is known from one ridgetop scrub oak barren--Great Blue Hill near Boston (but not found on others nearby), and it is suspected similar habitats might be used in West Virginia. Some other habitats could be described as brush prairie or scrub oak thickets.
Adult Food Habits: Unknown
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Adults apparently do not feed much and do not often come to baits. Larvae are facultatively oligophagous and will feed readily on barrens shrubs such as blueberry, scrub oak and PRUNUS species. They can mature on any combination of these. Captive females have highly specialized oviposition behavior. They strongly prefer to oviposiit near the edges of dead leaves such as scrub oak. In captivity they will not oviposit on paper towel or drop their eggs loose like virtually all other "glaeas". Thus eggs are in the litter and larvae move to foodplants in the spring and will no doubt feed on several genera of shrubby barrens plants. They do not accept pines.
Adult Phenology: Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Except perhaps the first two instars, larvae leave their feeding area by day and older larvae enter the litter or possibly even upper soil. They ascend to feed around dusk. Adults fly in rather late autumn, usually beginning about the end of September in ME, NH and WI, but not until October southward where the flight period extends into November. Adults generally are the last of the "glaeas" to appear in autumn. The flight season is rather short and unlike the longer lived C. SERICEA there are no records of C. CERATA in December. Larvae occur in the spring on new growth and are mature sometime in June in most of the range. The rest of the summer is spent aestivating underground.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Burn habitats in patches to prevent eradication by fire. Species is highly vulnerable to fire from October into June, but mortality should be very low in most naturally timed (summer) fires when fully mature larvae are aestivating in the soil. Clearly this species does not need frquent fires, but beyond that nothing can be said regarding indirect effects due to habitat changes caused by fires, some of which might be positive. Pending better information, infrequent fires (return interval >10years) are suggested. Several closely related species proved insentitive to BTK in laboratory assays (Peacock et al., 1998), and if this species is similarly insensitive then applications that prevent gypsy moth outbreaks would benefit the larvae. However that study found that sensitivity among closely related species often varies greatly.
Biological Research Needs: Some idea of intermediate term (several years after) response of this species to fire is badly needed. At present other than the fact that it does very well with very infrequent fires in much of its eastern range, not much is known about its repsonse to fire--especially summer fires which would cause little or no direct mortality. It is presumed that complete lack of fire would ultimately eliminate most EOs. Does this species tend to increase or decrease ca. three to five years after a fire. How long does recovery to at least pre-burn levels take after fall or spring fires?
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Pine Barrens Moths

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A location with a substantial (generally no less than 100 hectares) pine-shrubby oak-heath barrens or other xeric open pine woodland, where the species is documented as present (or historically present) with potential for continued presence and/or regular recurrence. Minimum documentation required varies somewhat among the species but requires a specimen or diagnostic photograph. Not all collections will represent occurrences as individuals of most of these species do turn up rarely 2-20 kilometers out of habitat. These Specs should also be used for these moths where they occur in oak savannas or other forms of oak woodland scrub. Occurrences ranked higher than C should generally be greater than 1000 hectares if only one patch or at least two patches of 400 hectares each.
Mapping Guidance: In most cases outside of southern New Jersey, available habitat associated with a collection of several these species is small (under 2000 hectares) and the appropriate community (or communities) so well defined and well mapped that EO boundaries for these Lepidoptera should be drawn to coincide with recognized community boundaries or at least to fit within them if the community is too broadly defined to be so used. Even in New Jersey vegetation maps can often be used to define EOs. Consult the habitat and food comments fields for species-specific information on what constitutes suitable habitat when mapping occurrences. In general closed canopy oak-pitch pine-heath forest should not be regarded as suitable habitat for these moths. Where species in this Specs Group occur on smaller ridgetop outcrops map the discrete habitats even though an EO may consist of several proximate patches, most likely all on that ridge.

Almost all species in this Specs Group feed on one or more of the dominant plants (pines, scrub oaks, blueberries) which are normally all abundant throughout pine barrens communities or at least on associated grasses which are patchily widespread. In the northern New York and northern New England barrens scrub oak can become spotty and in some previously severely disturbed parts of the Albany, New York barrens the blueberries and other heaths have not recovered. When mapping occurrences or in considering inferred extent, a given moth species should not be assumed to occupy habitat where its foodplant is scarce or absent or for most species where there is canopy closure of much more than 50%. Such areas are unsuitable habitat just as are closed canopy oak-pine-heath (mainly black huckleberry) forests that surround many pine barrens.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 20 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: If the pine barren community is, or recently (within last 100 years) was, large and more or less contiguous it should be regarded as a single occurrence for any of these species that occur. This is generally the case even if there has been habitat fragmentation and some fragments are now separated by up to the suitable habitat distance. A single pine barrens community occurrence rarely or never supports more than one occurrence for moths in this Specs Group. Most of these moths have poor or no potential to persist in isolated scraps of habitat

Where these moths occur on ridgetop situations all habitats on one ridge system separated by somewhat stunted oak-heath woods, these should be regarded as one occurrence subject to suitable habitat separation distance even though the oak woods may not really be habitat. In most cases the foodplants will occur at least in small patches between the major outcrops which are the main habitats and it will usually be more reasonable to apply the 10 kilometer distance than the 5 kilometer unsuitable habitat figure. However between ridges separation distance should be applied at ground or tree top level and is not merely the minimum distance between the ridge crests. Between ridge separation distance should usually be based on unsuitable habitat.

In the New Jersey Pine Barrens for purely practical reasons separation distances less than those recommended may be used in order to define discrete EOs--however arbitrary. Some subjective discretion in defining suitable vs. unsuitable habitat may be warranted (especially in the Appalachians south of Pennsylvania) if it appears that the barrens affinity of a particular species in the region is not as strong as it typically is in and north and east of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Compromise distances may sometimes be suitable in marginal habitats.

Separation Justification: These are moths of extensive habitats, likely to be absent in small habitat scraps. Their larvae feed on dominant or at least common plants of one or more layers in the community. Individuals of several of these species including CATOCALA HERODIAS, PSECTRAGLAEA CARNOSA, and DRASTERIA GRAPHICA ATLANTICA have been captured in New Jersey and/or southeastern Massachusetts, but at frequencies of well under one per trap-year, at locations 10-20 kilometers from any substantial habitat patches, and virtually all of them turn up more than a kilometer or two out of habitat, indicating very good dispersal potential. Similarly the generally rare HEMARIS GRACILIS (a pine barrens moth in much of its range) turns up in right of ways supporting low heath vegetation more than 10 kilometers from any other known habitats. CHAETAGLAEA TREMULA commonly establishes minor populations in powerline corridors in New Jersey well south of its core habitats there, presumably by colonization from massive natural barrens areas. Based on samples from in and near Myles Standish State Forest, Massachusetts, in and near the Long Island Dwarf Pine Plains of New York and in New Jersey, in general within a given barrens complex pine barrens moths normally fully occupy all suitable habitat patches, even when habitats are somewhat patchy, or even sharply defined and a few kilometers apart such as near Atlantic City Airport. However note that some species are less tolerant of canopy closure than others so definitions of suitable habitat may differ slightly. No instances are known where highly suitable habitat within 2-5 kilometers of major population centers is consistently unoccupied for any of these species, although data are limited. Based on extensive efforts in 1996-1997 by Dale Schweitzer, the Willow Grove Lake Preserve and vicinity in New Jersey has about 400 hectares of pitch pine-scrub oak-heath woodland but lacks over 90% of potential pine barrens specialist moths including most of those considered common in New Jersey. This preserve is less than 100 kilometers from the main part of the extensive Pine Barrens region, and there are small intervening patches. This suggests that even with a massive (>200,000 hectares) source area distances of a few tens of kilometers can be very effective isolation, although marginal habitat size at Willow Grove Lake is a confounding factor. One or two kilometers would clearly be too short as separation distance for most or all of these species but 10-20 kilometers across non-barrens habitats such as forests, swamps, farms or suburbia seems impracticably large. Therefore 5 kilometers (measured from the edges, not centers) is chosen keeping in mind that for most of the species few or no known occurrences are likely to be less than 2 kilometers across in all dimensions and some are well over 10,000 hectares. In practice outside of New Jersey EOs for most of these species are far apart and except at Shapleigh-Waterboro barrens in Maine there is seldom doubt as to whether occurrences are separate EOs or not. Separation across suitable (but unchecked) habitat needs to be considered mostly in southern New Jersey. While it is completely arbitrary and probably unrealistic to do so, it seems prudent for practical reasons to consider observations more than 20 kilometers apart as separate occurrences pending further sampling which will probably show them to be one EO. If these distances seem large consider that occurrences are long term populations of usually at least thousands of moths capable of flying generally from 2 to 20 km per hour. The suitable habitat distance will probably rarely apply outside of New Jersey.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 2 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Outside of New Jersey few pine barrens exceed 5,000 hectares in size and most are under 1000 hectares which seems to be near the minimum size on which many of these moths are likely to still occur (Schweitzer, personal observations; Givnish et al., 1988; Schweitzer and Rawinski, 1987; Cryan, ca. 1985; Schweitzer, 1996 ). Such occurrences are usually isolated by tens of kilometers or more from one another making boundaries and inferred extent (the entire habitat) isobvious. In larger pine barrens the 2 kilometer radius is unjustifiably small but here suggested as practical. No examples are known where species in this group have been shown or even suspected to occupy much less than all available habitat and most have at least one known occurrence of at least 5000-10000 hectares. Some of these species while of very limited distribution elsewhere are fairly common in the core of the New Jersey Pine Barrens and are almost continuously distributed over tens of thousands of hectares and/or have linear distributions of ten kilometers or more within large habitats. While it is generally unreasonable to assume species in this group occupy much less than all available habitat contiguous to an observation point, some practical upper limit is needed especially in New Jersey. Therefore it is recommended that IE not be extended more than 2 kilometers radius in extensive contiguous suitable habitat, pending further sampling which is nearly certain to show a larger extent. A circle of radius 2 km would define a habitat comparable to some of the smaller occurrences known for most of these species. A circle of one kilometer radius would define a habitat of only 400 hectares and most of these species are likely to be absent from such small remnants (although some, it is unpredictable which, will likely occur) and so it makes no sense to define an Inferred extent smaller than known small occurrences. At least outside of southern New Jersey, in no case should Inferred Extent around individual collection points ever be used to justify recognition of more than one occurrence for these moths in large pine barrens areas.
Date: 17Apr2001
Author: Schweitzer, Dale F.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 08Sep2003
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Management Information Edition Date: 21Mar2007
Management Information Edition Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 07Aug1997
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): SCHWEITZER, D.F.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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  • Rings, R. W., E. H. Metzler, F. J. Arnold, and D. H. Harris. 1992. The Owlet Moths of Ohio (Order Lepidoptera, family Noctuidae). Ohio Biol. Surv. Bull. New Series, Vol. 9, no. 2, vi. + 219 pp., 16 color plates.

  • Rockburne, E. W., and J. D. LaFontaine. 1976. The cutworm moths of Ontario and Quebec. Research Branch, Canada Department of Agriculture. Publication 1593. 164 pp.

  • Schneider, Kathryn J., Carol Reschke and Steve M. Young. 1991. Inventory of the rare plants, animals and ecological communities of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. A report to the Albany Pine Bush Commission. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Latham, NY. 67 pp. plus maps.

  • Schweitzer, D. 1986. Memo to New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan Heritage programs and WPA Conservancy of March 7, 1986 regarding oak openings/black oak savanna lepidoptera.

  • Schweitzer, Dale F. 1992. Memo to participants in the July 1992 pine barrens workshop of July 14, 1992 regarding lepidoptera and other insects of dwarf pine barrens.

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