Cerma cora - Hübner, 1818
Bird Dropping Moth
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.108386
Element Code: IILEY9S010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Other Moths
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Noctuidae Cerma
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Concept Reference
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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: Cerma cora
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 14May2005
Global Status Last Changed: 07Aug1997
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Considered rare in most of range and often associated with unusual and/or pristine habitats. Few documented occurrences, none in many states within its range, and single Ohio collection was before 1900. Other than Wisconsin, probably no state has more than five recently verified occurrences. Still with records in the 1980s and since then scattered widely from New Hampshire and New York to Wisconsin to Florida and Louisiana, this species does not appear to be currently imperiled.
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 Indiana (SNR), Massachusetts (SX), Michigan (SNR), New Hampshire (S1S2), New York (S1S2), North Carolina (S2S3), Pennsylvania (SH), Virginia (S1S3), Wisconsin (S3)
Canada New Brunswick (SU), Nova Scotia (SU), Ontario (S1?), Quebec (S2S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Primarily southern, even though most specimens come from well collected northern areas. Southern Canada south to Florida and Texas, but absent in large parts of this area, e.g. apparently most of southern New England (historic in Massachusetts) and southern New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, most of Ohio (one pre-1900 occurrence) and most or all of the Virginias. Absent, especially northward, from the majority of seemingly suitable habitats even in states where it is present. In addition most states with any known localities have very few. Other than Wisconsin, probably no state has more than five recently verified occurrences. The true range of this species cannot now be characterized with any certainty.

Area of Occupancy: Unknown 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 21 to >300

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats are very high northward where populations in pine barrens habitats are being rapidly degraded due to development.

Short-term Trend: Unknown

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%

Environmental Specificity: Unknown

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Fieldwork needed. Adults come to light in late spring. Late March in Florida, as late as July in Maine. Late May and early June in New York.

Protection Needs: Several in close proximity to allow for recolonization if local extirpations occur. Any northern population associated with a reasonably intact community should be protected.

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Primarily southern, even though most specimens come from well collected northern areas. Southern Canada south to Florida and Texas, but absent in large parts of this area, e.g. apparently most of southern New England (historic in Massachusetts) and southern New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, most of Ohio (one pre-1900 occurrence) and most or all of the Virginias. Absent, especially northward, from the majority of seemingly suitable habitats even in states where it is present. In addition most states with any known localities have very few. Other than Wisconsin, probably no state has more than five recently verified occurrences. The true range of this species cannot now be characterized with any certainty.

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.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States IN, MAextirpated, MI, NC, NH, NY, PA, VA, WI
Canada NB, NS, ON, QC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NC Ashe (37009), Martin (37117), New Hanover (37129)
NH Grafton (33009), Merrimack (33013)
NY Albany (36001), Allegany (36003), Clinton (36019), Delaware (36025)
VA Augusta (51015)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Pemigewasset (01070001)+, Contoocook (01070003)+*, Merrimack (01070006)+
02 Mohawk (02020004)+, Middle Hudson (02020006)+, Upper Delaware (02040101)+, Maury (02080202)+
03 Lower Roanoke (03010107)+, Lower Cape Fear (03030005)+
04 Chateaugay-English (04150308)+
05 Upper Allegheny (05010001)+, Upper New (05050001)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Moth.
General Description: Extremely distinctive as adults. See illustrations such as Rockburne and LaFontaine (1976) and Rings et al. (1992). The larva is a semilooper, mottled, rather purplish, with sparse long hair. Both Tim McCabe and Dale Schweitzer are familiar with it and McCabe has photos and specimens of the larvae.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Unique wing pattern and coloration among eastern North American moths. Comparison of adults with specimens or photos should suffice. Only an extreme novice could mistake any other eastern US moth for this one. Larvae must be confirmed by an expert. 27-30 mm. This moth has a unique wing pattern. The larva has long black setae, prominent tubercles, and the general shape and semi-looper appearance of Cerma cerintha (Wagner 2005), but is blackish dorsally, with a narrow white mid-dorsal line. The caterpillar also has a variable mix of white, yellow, and sometimes orange on the sides, especially on the abdominal segments. The adult is also illustrated in Rings et al. (1992) and Rockburne and Lafontaine (1976).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Mixed, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Habitats vary regionally. Curiously many sites are exceptional examples of uncommon communities ranging from pine barrens (northward) to bluff and ravine forests (FL) to riparian swamps (NC). Northward habitats include pitch pine-crub oak barrens and other sandy situations. This species is absent from the vast majority of pin cherry stands, although northward this is probably the sole foodplant.
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: The only foodplants confirmed in nature are pin or fire cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) which is confimred in at least NY (McCabe) and NH (Schweitzer) and given in the literature and quite recently hawthorn in Florida (David Wagner, photos also verified by Schweitzer). Most of of the range of this moth is south of the range of pin cherry. It seems likely that certain species of wild plums may be used, and S. Hall suggests bottomland Crataegus marshalii as likely at one North Carolina site.
Adult Phenology: Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Adults fly in late spring, from late March and April in northern Florida, occasionally late February on the peninsula, late May and early June at Albany, NY and June or early July in the far north. Larvae follow very soon thereafter and are mature in early or mid July in NY and NH. This suggests they would mature by mid May in northern Florida. There is only one brood rangewide. The rest of the year is spent as a pupa in dead wood (Tim McCabe), probably in the litter.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Gypsy Moth spraying with BTK could be an issue for this species, especially southward, if the application were at or soon after the time when adults occur. First and second instar larvae would probably be highly sensitive (Peacock et al., 1998). There is little chance of impact from BTK northward where C. cora occurs much later. Fire is an issue since no stage is underground, but some survival of pupae inside sticks on the ground would be likely in light fires if the wood did not burn. Very frequent prescribed burns could cause a scarcity of pupation sites. It is unknown how many year it would take for the foodplants to be acceptable to ovipositing females following fires. They probably would not be for the first season when sprouts are still very small following most winter and all spring burns. However, the collection of this species in aLouisiana pine savanna suggests the species may persist with frequent fire, but it is not actually verified that C. cora was breeding in that habitat. Obviously herbiciding of understory shubs such as the foodplants would be incompatible with this species. In riparian swamps artificial manipulations of the water level could be a serious issue. It is possible that pupae which are present most of the year would have good survival at least for a few days, and very likely that eggs would. Larvae in the hawthorn foliage probably could not withstand more than at most a few hours under water.


Biological Research Needs: Foodplant in most parts of the range needs to be determined.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A woodland of some sort where the species occurs. Minimally a specimen or diagnostic photograph of a late instar larva or moth in association with a plausible habitat.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: In New York and New England, the Specs for Pine Barrens Moths will often apply and if so should be used if the foodplants are well distributed within the community. Generally if the occurrence including the local foodplant is associated with a distinctive natural community or distinctive edaphic feature the suitable habitat distance should be applied within it. The suitable habitat distance may be violated within discrete isolated natural communities in which the foodplants are widespread over at least hundreds of hectares in order to prevent separating such metapopulations into multiple EOs.
Separation Justification: Can occur widely within barrens such as around Albany, New York and such occurrences can extend a few kilometers. This is a fairly average sized noctuid and comparable species fly several km per hour at least. It would be difficult to postulate a scenario by which a large suitable habitat could remain unoccupied so in general two collections in the same suitable area would be one occurrence regardless of size, but some arbitrary cap is needed. The somewhat short distances reflect general experience that habitats tend to be not much more than 1000 hectares and the foodplants are not normally dominant components so population densities are probably not high and also these moths are local and not found often out of habitat. It is also quite possible that suitable habitat is more specific than now known and mere presence of foodplant may not be sufficient to define it. For an obvious example very frequently burned or artificially flooded habitat might be unsuitable (or an ecological sink) due to lack of safe pupation sites. Therefore a conservatively small suitable habitat distance is suggested.
Date: 11May2004
Author: Schweiter, Dale F.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 14May2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Management Information Edition Date: 20Mar2007
Management Information Edition Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Mar2007
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).

References
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  • Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden. Oxford University Press, New York. 232 pp.

  • Brock, J. P., and K. Kaufman. 2003. Butterflies of North America. Kaufman Focus Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.

  • Covell, C. V., Jr. 1999. The butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of Kentucky: An annotated checklist. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Scientific and Technical Series Number 6, Frankfort, Kentucky. 220 pp.

  • Ferge, L. A., and G. J. Balogh. 2000. Checklist of Wisconsin Moths (Superfamilies Drepanoidea, Geometroidea, Mimmallonoidea, Bombycoidea, Sphingoidea, and Noctuiodea). Contributions in Biology and Geology of the Milwaukee Public Museum No. 93. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 55 pp. and one color plate.

  • Ferguson, Douglas C., 1955. The Lepidoptera of Nova Scotia Part 1 (Macrolepidoptera). Bulletin no. 2 of the Nova Scotia Museum of Science, Halifax, NS, Canada., 375 pp., black and white plates.

  • Forbes, W. T. M. 1954. Lepidoptera of New York and Neighboring States, Noctuidae, Part III. Memoir 329. Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station. Ithaca, NY.

  • Forbes, William T. M. 1954. Lepidoptera of New York and neighboring states part III. Cornell University Experiment Station Memoir 329.

  • Handfield, Louis, 1999. Le Guide des Papillons du Quebec, Scientific Version. Broquet Inc, Boucherville, Quebec, Canada, 155pp + plates.

  • 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.

  • Lafontaine, J.D. and B. C. Schmidt. 2010. Annotated check list of the Noctuoidea (Insecta, Lepidoptera) of North America north of Mexico. ZooKeys 40:1-239.

  • Landau, Deborah and Dorothy Prowell, 1999. A partial checklist of moths from longleaf pine savannas in Louisiana (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Transactions of the American Entomological Society125(1+2):127-138

  • McCabe, Timothy L. 1990. Report to the Natural Heritage Program: Results of the 1990 field survey for lepidoptera (especially noctuidae). New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Latham, NY. 38 pp. plus supplements.

  • Pohl, G.R.  J-F. Landry, B.C. Schmidt, J.D. Lafontaine, J.T. Troubridge, A.D. Macaulay, E.van Nieukerken, J.R. deWaard, J.J. Dombroskie, J. Klymko, V. Nazari and K. Stead. 2018. Annotated checklist of the moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Canada and Alaska. Pensoft Publishers. 580 pp.

  • 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, D. F., M. C. Minno, and D. L. Wagner. 2011. Rare, declining, and poorly known butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of forests and woodlands in the eastern United States. USFS Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Technology Transfer Bulletin FHTET-2011-01. 517 pp.

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