Hemileuca sp. 1
Bogbean Buckmoth
Other English Common Names: Bog Buckmoth, Cryan's Buckmoth
Taxonomic Status: Provisionally accepted
French Common Names: hémileucin du ményanthe
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.116596
Element Code: IILEW0MX10
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Giant Silkworm and Royal Moths
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Saturniidae Hemileuca
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Schweitzer, Dale F. Terrestrial Invertebrate Zoologist, NatureServe. 1761 Main St. Port Norris, NJ 08349. 856-785-2470.
Concept Reference Code: PNDSCH01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Hemileuca sp. 1
Taxonomic Comments: Probably only a very distinctive subspecies of H. nevadensis (or latifascia), but was initially treated in this database and by others as a full species based on numerous and obvious differences in ecology. However, it has since been shown that some Midwestern populations do feed to some degree on Menyanthes so the foodplant restriction is not as unique as was formerly thought. There is no reliable character for the adults, but in series compared to other eastern buckmoths they are large (usually so for their latitude), very translucent (comparable to other buckmoths this far north) and with scalloped forewing bands and many can be correctly sorted. Separation of any stage from H. maia appears easy but characters match or widely overlap H. nevadensis subspecies 3 except that few if any other wetland buckmoth larvae have the normal yellow as reduced or even absent as this taxon does.

More western populations with normal yellow larval pattern in which larvae use Menyanthes to varying degrees along with normal foodplants are not included in this taxon. To date no populations in the Midwest have been shown to specialize on that plant.

The initial treatment as a species could be correct and is being retained for now given the lack of clear contrary evidence. This is an isolate of Tuskes et al.'s (1996) Great Lakes Region populations of the MAIA-NEVADENSIS complex. Schweitzer had no difficulty producing and rearing a three way hybrid stock between this and New Jersey and Ohio fen buckmoths but some F1 backcross larvae seemed weak. Other members of this complex are reproductively isolated from H. maia and H. lucina but this may or may not be true for Bogbean Buckmoth. Many other lines of evidence show these wetland taxa not to be conspecific with H. maia and "sp.1" is the least similar to that oak feeder. Although not yet named in the scientific literature this taxon is well known to buckmoth experts such as J. Tuttle, J. Legge, D. Schweitzer, Ed Stanton, John Legge, J. Cryan among others. Most agree this is at least a valid subspecies that differs from all others in primary foodplant, range, reduced larval maculation (or lack of) and some minor adult character trends. Legge et al. (1996) prefer to call it an Evolutionarily Significant Unit rather than formally treat it at any taxonomic level. An account of its biology, including apparent adaptations to an emergent aquatic herb rather than the usual tall shrubs, is given by Pryor (1998). The overwhelming primary foodplant is bog bean Menyanthes trifoliata, but foodplant is not an absolute character. While many more eastern wetland buckmoth populations will not accept Menyanthes some populations in at least Wisconsin do use that herb to some extent along with the usual willows. However such Wisconsin larvae are normal, resembling other populations from New Jersey to central Wisconsin in having a prominent yellow spiracular band (photograph and personal communication from Les Ferge, 2003) and some dorsal yellow. Last instar Bogbean Buckmoth larvae have greatly reduced yellow or virtually none. Aside from the few in Ontario and New York assigned to this taxon, no other Hemileuca populations are known to use Menyanthes almost exclusively.

Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1Q
Global Status Last Reviewed: 27Nov2006
Global Status Last Changed: 26Mar2000
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Less than ten occurrences in an extremely limited two part range. Some populations may not be viable long term. Possible there are five or less viable metapopulations. Probable serious disruption of original population structure. Threats exist and seem sufficient to justify the rank even though 5-10 populations probably exist.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (20Sep1999)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (03Jan2013)

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 New York (S1)
Canada Ontario (S1)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (20Jun2012)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (27Nov2009)
Comments on COSEWIC: This very rare moth is only known from New York and Ontario. In Ontario, it is found in two widely separated fens. It is susceptible to the effects of exotic invasive plants, especially European Common Reed, that are crowding out its preferred foodplant, the Bogbean, and of potential flooding or drying of habitat resulting from manipulation of water levels at the main site.

Status History: Designated Endangered in November 2009.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: A few fens in Oswego County, New York and two along the Ottawa River well to the north in Ontario. Two areas are not contiguous. Reports from Wisconsin and Manitoba do not refer to this taxon.

Area of Occupancy: 1-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Less than 10 known despite rather thorough effort.

Population Size: 2500 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Fluctuates but numeorus at most sites, probably more than 10,000 in many years but almost certainly less in some years.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Habitat changes, mosquito and gypsy moth spraying. Habitat changes could include succession or major increases in exotic weeds like PHRAGMITES of purple loosestrife. Oswego County has been known to conduct massive mosquito spraying with potent biocides such as Dibrome which could eradicate a colony depending on timing and concentration.

Short-term Trend: Unknown
Short-term Trend Comments: Obviously has lost most to almost all original habitat but seems to be persisting at remaining sites now.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 10-90%

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Apparently most suitable fens have been checked but any newly discovered ones should be.

Global Range: (<100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)) A few fens in Oswego County, New York and two along the Ottawa River well to the north in Ontario. Two areas are not contiguous. Reports from Wisconsin and Manitoba do not refer to this taxon.

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.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States NY
Canada ON

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NY Oswego (36075)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Irondequoit-Ninemile (04140101)+, Salmon-Sandy (04140102)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A buckmoth
General Description: Similar to other buckmoths. A large black moth with broad white wing bands containing an eyespot on each wing. Males have red tip on abdomen. Wings rather transluscent. Rather intermediate in maculation between western, typical, nevadensis and more eastern members of that complex and maia. larvae similar to others when young but does not have much, if any yellow at maturity.
Diagnostic Characteristics: It may not be possible to identify every adult except from biological and locality data. Most have wider white wing bands than other eastern buckmoths with very disticnlty wavy outer adges on these--at least on FW. Larvae are distinctive in last two instars by their virtual lack of yellow pattern. They are almost unmarked black. Foodplant is disitinctive. No other buckmoths occur anywhere near the known range.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Should be capable of flying several to many kilometers, but seldon leaves habitat. In NY probably some movement between certain sites that are close together.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen
Habitat Comments: Restricted to calcareous fens with massive amounts of the foodplant which is MENYANTHES TRIFOLIATA.
Adult Food Habits: Nonfeeding
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Larvae normally feed on MENYANTHES in nature, but sometimes use other foodplants such as willow in the later instars.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: All activity is normally on warm, sunny days although late instar larvae probably do feeds some at night and are active on warm cloudy days. Adults fly in about the last three weeks of September. Larvae occur from about mid or late May to mid July.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Hemileuca in part: Wetland Taxa

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A location where the taxon occurs, or has occurred, with potential for persistence or regular recurrence. Minimally a fen, bog, marsh, willow seep, or other suitable habitat (depends on species) where the taxon has been verified and which supports sufficient foodplant and habitat to sustain a population or (most highly ranked EOs) a metapopulation.
Mapping Guidance: For taxa east of the Great Plains, habitat boundaries generally are very discrete and eastward usually correspond to a well known fen or similar community for "species" 1,2,3. For H. LUCINA the boundaries are obvious in the field based on patrolling males or distribution of larvae, but may not correspond to natural communities as defined by botanists. Often though they are easily mappable such as wet areas in powerlines etc. In general with fens or bogs the entire community should be mapped as the EO even though the population may be somewhat concentrated in certain parts and even absent from some sections where the foodplant is sparse. Given the small scale of these habitats (usually <20 hectares) and the fact the moths need a certain amount of space it does not usually make sense to try to sub-divide small habitats unless the occurrence is clearly confined to one easily mappable portion. On the other hand in riparian situations it would be very reasonable to include only the sunny side if one side is heavily shaded at mid day during the adult flight (sometime in autumn) season by mountains or forest.
Note though that mere presence of the foodplant does not define suitable habitat--especially in forested regions. Vegetation structure, usually an open, sunny low shrubby aspect, can be important. It is likely that wet substrate, or for more eastern taxa even peat, is also directly important. Also none of these wetland species will apparently enter forests and they avoid shaded areas when active. Therefore shaded stands of foodplant are usually not suitable habitat.

Separation Barriers: None known. For H. LUCINA gravid females will readily fly over forests, developed areas and other highly unsuitable environments (Schweitzer many observations and unpublished data). The ecologically dissimilar H. MAIA also moves over unsuitable habitats including urbanized areas. It is therefore assumed that the H. NEVADENSIS complex taxa (which are most of this SPECS GROUP) will do the same.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: When connected by obvious linear dispersal corridors leading directly between habitats, such as shrubby riverbanks or powerlines, use 5 kilometers. This is based on the fact that buckmoth females (H. LUCINA and MAIA at least) commonly move more than a kilometer--in fact most H.LUCINA females from high density populations probably do. Movements up to at least 4 km have been actually documented (Schweitzer, unpublished) and may be common in some circumstances.
Separation Justification: While 2 kilometers seems low for large mobile moths, it takes into account that fens and bogs can be quite isolated in the environment and also quite small. When this is the case two kilometers should largely separate two occurrences even though it is unlikely such a distance would completely prevent gene flow unless both sources are small low quality EOs.
While populations of buckmoths may or may not seem patchy in a given year, over time (<< one decade) they occupy nearly all available suitable habitat. They are actually generally present pretty much throughout in most years but densities may vary in space and time. For example larvae are likely to be absent or very nearly so for a season in the affected area following a fall, winter or spring fire burning part of the habitat. The concept of unoccupied contiguous suitable habitat is generally moot. While very few wetland buckmoth habitats in fact do stretch for 10 km, it would be unreasonable to treat observations that close together separated by suitable or marginal habitat as separate. This seems most likely to apply with H. NEVADENSIS along riparian corridors with shrubby willows widely distributed.
It is worth noting that the taxonomically close but ecologically different H. MAIA fully fills more than 500,000 hectares of suitable and marginal essentially contiguous habitat in the New Jersey outer coastal plain. Schweitzer attempted and failed to locate unoccupied marginal peripheral habitats there in the 1980s and 1990s. So members of this group are apparently only localized when they are forced to be by habitat constraints.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: In virtually all circumstances the IE is the full extent of contiguous or nearly contiguous habitat in the area and usually this will be a few hectares to a few hundred hectares. However, if the habitat does extend for several kilometers it is suggested IE be arbitrarily capped at 0.5 radius pending additional field work. In part this reflects the fact that suitable habitat can be difficult to define unless one is experienced with the taxon in that region. Also habitats are not often more than 100 hectares.
Date: 05Sep2001
Author: Schweitzer, Dale F.
Notes: The taxa currently tracked as "species" 1 and 2, that is the New York-Ontario and New Jersey components of the Great Lakes complex by Tuskes et al. (1996) are included here with reservation. At present it appears both are reduced to so few occurrences that each fen should probably simply called an occurrence regardless of context. These may be so isolated that any dispersal tendency has been selected out of these populations. Still if any two fens where these occur are within one kilometer of each other they should be considered one occurrence.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 10May2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 10Oct1995
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).

  • Pryor, Gregory S., 1998 Life history of the bog buckmoth (Saturniidae: HEMILEUCA) in New york State. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 52(2):125-138.

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