Citheronia sepulcralis - Grote and Robinson, 1865
Pine Devil Moth
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.109688
Element Code: IILEW0G030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Giant Silkworm and Royal Moths
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Saturniidae Citheronia
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Tuskes, P. M., J. P. Tuttle, and M. M. Collins. 1996. The Wild Silk Moths of North America: A Natural History of the Saturniidae of the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. 250 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B96TUS01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Citheronia sepulcralis
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 11Nov2011
Global Status Last Changed: 11Nov2011
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: This species is still widespread, and not obviously declining, from central Pennsylvania (where it may be increasing) and the New Jersey Pinelands to Florida. However it was apparently extirpated in the mid 20th century (last record in 1952) from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and at least the mainland of New York, almost certainly by some combination of massive (multimillion hectare) gypsy moth spray projects (using mostly DDT) and parasitism by the introduced tachinid Compsilura concinnata. However there has been substantial recovery of large moths, including some Saturniidae, in places like northwestern New Jersey (Dale Schweitzer and others) and northern Vermont and less so the Cape Cod area in New England (Schweitzer, et al., 2011), and one C. sepulchralis was found in Plymouth County, Massachusetts in 2011 (some suspicion this was introduced). Current gypsy moth suppression activities are on a much smaller scale and do not pose a serious threat, probably none at all with spring applications of Btk. There is still some uncertainty about what exactly caused the crash of most large moths in the Northeast several decades ago, that is whether there were factors other than spraying and Compsilura, and about reasons for recovery in some places and not others. Currently there is no evidence C. sepulcralis is continuing to decline. This species is extremely rare or extirpated in about 5-10% of its former range, but usually turns up if looked for and at convenience store lights in southern New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, and becomes more common farther south in both the Coastal Plain and mountains. Recent inventory projects in the Virginias have also been getting this species.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (12May2005)

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 Arkansas (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Maine (SH), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (SX), New Hampshire (SX), New Jersey (S4), New York (S1), Pennsylvania (S2S4), Rhode Island (SX), Virginia (S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Mostly Appalachians and coastal plain currently from the New Jersey Pine Barrens and south- central Pennsylvania through most of Florida and west into southern Ohio then south through eastern Kentucky etc. to the Gulf states then as far west as southeastern Louisiana. Formerly also widely from northern Pennsylvania well into Maine to Oxford and Brunswick at least. It is unclear if this species actually is widespread through the southern piedmont or not.

Laurent (2016) notes that questionable records from New York and Illinois have persisted in the literature, but are not considered credible.

Number of Occurrences: > 300

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: This assessment assumes Compsilura concinnata does not reach devastating levels in most areas where it has not to date. If this were to change this species could go from abundant to extirpated (S5 to SX) in much less than a decade, possibly in about three years.

Overall Threat Impact: Unknown
Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species has been eradicated from about 5% or more of its range (mostly from central Maine to eastern Pennsylvania) almost certainly by an out of control introduced parasitoid, Compsilura concinnata, with massive 1950s-1960s DDT spraying of northeastern forests a contributing factor. That parasitoid is now established in much of the eastern USA but it has had minimal impacts on native Lepidoptera in some places (e.g. southern New Jersey) and greatly reduced wiped out many species of large summer moths in others (e.g. southern New England)--although some are recovering in some places and others persist in very low numbers. Citheronia and Eacles appear to be the most vulnerable genera at least in terms of actual eradication. Until the factors behind these major regional differences in Compsilura impacts are better known it cannot be really determined whether this species is basically unthreatened in much of its range as now appears to be the case or whether it is at high risk of imminent massive reduction. Right now it is thought to be unthreatened in most of its range but that might change very rapidly especially in Appalachia. See Schweitzer (2004) and various references cited. Other threats exist but are localized. It is likely this genus is vulnerable to extreme light polution in large cities but these moths can do well in areas with normal suburban and rural lighting.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Actually increasing in central Pennsylvania apparently but mostly stable in the South (as far north as South Jersey) as far as known, and extirpated northeastward.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: This species was actually rather widespread in New England except for Vermont but well into Maine and in southeastern New York and northeastern Pennsylvania and it is extirpated from those areas now and may be also inland south to about the Washington, D.C. area. However that is under 10% of the orignal range and declines in and south of New Jersey have been moderate at worst except probably in parts of Florida. This is still a common moth in much of the South including parts of New Jersey.

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Mostly Appalachians and coastal plain currently from the New Jersey Pine Barrens and south- central Pennsylvania through most of Florida and west into southern Ohio then south through eastern Kentucky etc. to the Gulf states then as far west as southeastern Louisiana. Formerly also widely from northern Pennsylvania well into Maine to Oxford and Brunswick at least. It is unclear if this species actually is widespread through the southern piedmont or not.

Laurent (2016) notes that questionable records from New York and Illinois have persisted in the literature, but are not considered credible.

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: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AR, IL, MAextirpated, MD, ME, NHextirpated, NJ, NY, PA, RIextirpated, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MA Hampden (25013)*, Hampshire (25015)*, Middlesex (25017)*
NH Merrimack (33013)*, Strafford (33017)*
NY Suffolk (36103)
PA Chester (42029)*, Lycoming (42081)*, Northumberland (42097)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003)+*, Contoocook (01070003)+*, Merrimack (01070006)+*, Middle Connecticut (01080201)+*
02 Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Lower West Branch Susquehanna (02050206)+*, Lower Susquehanna-Penns (02050301)+, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Barrens, Forest - Conifer, Forest/Woodland, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: While it becomes increasingly associated with pitch pine, but apparently not really pine barrens per se, northward, from southern New Jersey and central Pennsylvania southward this is a widespread species in coastal plain pine woods an in the mountains where pines are common in more mixed forests.
Adult Food Habits: Nonfeeding
Food Comments: Caterpillar Hosts: Pines including pitch pine (Pinus rigida), eastern white pine (P. strobus), and Caribbean pine (P. caribaea). Adult Food: Adults do not feed (Lotts and Naberhaus 2017).
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Varies regionally and not necessarily as expected based on latitude. Extinct northeastern populations had moths basically in early-mid July. Apparently mostly June now in Pennsylvania. In southern New Jersey and probably the Delmarva region there is a bimodal first brood with an early peak in very late May to mid June depending on the spring and another peak about 3-4 weeks after the first, and some years a partial second brood in early August. In Ohio and the southern Appalachians adults are much later, i.e. mostly in July. In the coastal Carolinas two broods starting about the end of April but the second supposedly not until early August (suggesting a short diapause or much slower development than in New Jersey). Records from March to October in Florida could possibly be two broods as suggested by Tuskes et al (1996) but more likely represent three or four broods. In New Jersey and DELMARVA egg stage takes 9-12 days and the larval stage about 4-6 weeks and non-diapausing pupae hatch in 3-4 weeks. Pupae overwinter and rarely do so twice (at least in New Jersey).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Large Saturniidae

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A location where the species occurs where there is potential for continued occurrence or regular recurrence. Minimally an area where the species has been verified in some life stage based on a specimen or photograph in association with sufficient habitat to sustain a population. These are mostly unspecialized landscape level moths and few occurrences are really less than 500 hectares and many are almost undefinable.
An occurrence ranked higher than D should support a viable persistent population. These moths do not persist well once habitat becomes functionally fragmented. For example despite statements in Tuskees et al. (1996) CALLOSAMIA ANGULIFERA apparently no longer persists in scattered tulip tree stands in Massachusetts and Rhode Island but has in southern Connecticut where its foodplant is fairly common. As they note HYALOPHORA COLUMBIA COLUMBIA has died out following habitat fragmentation in many areas. Where documented occurrences are small (<500 hectares) if possible pool them as a metapopulation, especially if there is some marginal habitat between the main patches. If they are truly isolated such small occurrences should not be ranked higher than C.

Mapping Guidance: In agricultural regions it is easy to map useful habitat, but hard to determine what is a functional occurrence--that is viable population. With forest occurrences boundaries may be obvious. With unstable fencerow and roadside populations one can do little more than map observations.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 4 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 20 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: Many of the species seem to occur mainly in unstable populations in successional or roadside areas in some parts of their range. C. PROMETHEA can be very unstable near the northern limits of its range (Tuskees et al., 1996; also personal observations of D. Schweitzer in Maine and Vermont). In many agricultural regions one can easily observe that cocoons of C. PROMETHEA are abundant some years and completely absent others in a given area often mostly in fence row, hedges, thickets and roadsides. Often one can find a few cecropia cocoons in the same thickets. In some heavily disturbed areas these unstable occurrences may be most or all of the local population. Numerous claims have been made and sometimes documented that saturniid populations move around over time, although in many cases they do not die out of areas completely but merely fluctuate. Parasitoids, native species, e.g. egg parasitoids in southern New Jersey (Schweitzer), as well as exotic COMPSILURA in New England and New York, seem to drive some fluctuations and population shifts. Regardless of cause, where large Saturniidae occur in unstable unnatural situations without apparent reservoirs in more natural forests or other habitats there is little choice but to basically record observation points. If the occurrences are along roadsides and fencerows, intervening habitats are highly unsuitable (such as farmland), and densities are such that a given patch is unoccupied most years, it may be impractical to define persistent viable occurrences. In such cases occurrences may need to be arbitrarily defined and they should not be ranked highly, or if ti is an option consider merely recording observations and not EOs.
Separation Justification: These are moths of large habitats and it makes no sense to define small occurrences separated by short distances defining habitat patches where they probably could not persist. Since fully loaded females are mostly not strong fliers it is generally believed that these moths are not good colonizers across more than a few kilometers. However it is not known how far females fly. Males are known to move tens of kilometers. Dale Schweitzer has observed numerous CALLOSAMIA PROMETHEA on their maiden flight and they are agile, powerful fliers that apparently do not lay many eggs their first night of flight. Females of some other species that are more fecund such as CITHERONIA REGALIS and HYALOPHORA CECROPIA have genuine difficulty even getting airborne and probably lay most of their eggs within a kilometer of their eclosion site. Undoubtedly once they have laid most of their eggs such females can fly far and worn females taken at lights often contain 50-200 eggs. The fact that most of the species can persist or regularly recur in small Midwestern woodlots or in small roadside thickets in vastly agricultural landscapes does imply though that partially gravid females do move between patches. These moths are mostly not habitat specialists or else occur in common forest or woodland types and almost always occur widely, though often sparsely, over large areas. These distances are meant mainly for where these species occur consistently at moderate or high densities in large habitats such as forests, desert scrub, woodlands or barrens. In extensive forests given the flight capability of these moths there is almost no chance populations within 20 km would be genetically separate and if intervening habitat were largely suitable they would in at least some years be connected. Among North American species these Specs should apply for example to most or all occurrences of ACTIAS, ANTHERAEA, CALLOSAMIA ANGULIFERA, EUPACKARDIA, EACLES, CITHERONIA among others. While C. PROMETHEA is clearly most dense in fence rows, along edges, and in thickets along moderately used automobile roads, in heavily forested regions like southern New Jersey sparsely distributed (usually <1 cocoon per hectare) forest understory populations which occur in most of the local forest types surely are most of the total population. In fact in 2001 in southern Cumberland County males were unusually numerous coming to calling females even though roadside cocoons were virtually non-existent in most areas and far lower than in the previous 12 years. A similar scenario may be true of H. CECROPIA and in some places H. COLUMBIA GLOVERI. In such cases, these Specs should be used. See alternate separation procedure for unstable occurrences without a stable reservoir.
Note then the five kilometer distance applies only across landscapes devoid of habitat or largely so, perhaps a good threshold would be >95% unsuitable such as crop land. Use the 20 kilometer distance with patchy or marginal habitat and note for many species this can include residential or urban habitat if such places provide suitable places for the cocoons..

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 1 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Inferred is extent should really be all available habitat if the species is present at all. These moths can seldom maintain themselves in small areas and will utilize most patches to some extent in some years. One kilometer is merely a low, but practical suggested limit for use in extensive suitable habitat. A circle of this radius defines an area of about 400 hectares which does appear to approximate some of the smaller persistent occurrences for several species in southeastern Pennsylvania (Schweitzer).
Date: 20Sep2001
Author: Schweitzer, 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: 11Nov2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 11Nov2011
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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  • Albu, V. and E. Metzler. 2004. Lepidoptera of North America 5. Contributions to the knowledge of southern West Virginia Lepidoptera. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod diversity, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 82 pp.

  • Boettner, George, Jospeh S. Elkinton, and Cynthia Boettner. 2000. Effects of a biological control introduction on three nontarget native species of Saturniid moths. Conservation Biology 14(6): 1798-1806.

  • 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.

  • Covell, Charles V. 1984. A field guide to the moths of eastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

  • Farquhar, D. W.. 1934. The Lepidoptera of New England. A list of the species, their distribution, period of imaginal activity, and larval food plants; the New England faunal zones; origin of the New England Lepidopterous fauna. Ph.D. Thesis, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

  • Ferguson, D. C. 1971. Bombycoidea: Saturnidae, Citheroniinae and Hemileucinae. Part I. Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 20.2B. E.W. Classey Ltd. and R.B.D. Publications, London, England.

  • Laurent, R. 2016. Updated distributional data for Citheronia sepulcralis Grote & Robinson, 1865 (Saturniidae: Ceratocampinae), with a new host plant record. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 70(1): 9-14.

  • Lotts, K., and T. Naberhaus, coordinators. 2017. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Available online: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/ (Version December 2018).

  • Ludwig, J. C. 2000. A survey of macrolepidopteran moths near Vontay, Hanover County, Virginia. Banisteria 15:16-35.

  • Ludwig, J. C. 2001. An update to the survey of macrolepidopteran moths near Vontay, Hanover County, Virginia. Banisteria 17:42-47.

  • Ludwig, J. C. 2002. Second update to the survey of macrolepidopteran moths near Vontay, Hanover County, Virginia. Banisteria 19:17-19.

  • Maier, C. T., C. R. Lemmon, J. M Fengler, D. F. Schweitzer, and R. C. Reardon. 2004. Caterpillars on the foliage of conifers in the northeastern United States. Morgantown, WV. USDA Forest Service. Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. FHTET-2004-01. March 2004. 151 pp.

  • NatureServe. 2010. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. (Data last updated August 2010)

  • Schweitzer, Dale F. 2004. Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar): impacts and options for biodiversity-oriented land managers. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. NatureServe Explorer. Online. Available: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/

  • Tuskes, P. M., J. P. Tuttle, and M. M. Collins. 1996. The Wild Silk Moths of North America: A Natural History of the Saturniidae of the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. 250 pp.

  • Webber, R.T., and J.V. Schaffner, Jr. 1926. Host relations of Compsilura concinnata Meigen, an important tachinid parasite of the gypsy moth and the brown-tail moth. Bulletin No. 1363. USDA, Washington, DC.

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