Manduca blackburni - (Butler, 1880)
Blackburn's Sphinx Moth
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.112510
Element Code: IILEX04100
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Sphinx Moths
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Sphingidae Manduca
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kitching, I.J. and J.Cadiou. 2000. Hawkmoths of the world. An annotated and illustrated revisionary checklist (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). The Natural History Museum, London. 226 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B00KIT01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Manduca blackburni
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 28Nov2006
Global Status Last Changed: 26Mar2000
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Apparently at the brink of extinction, but maybe recoverable. Habitat and range reduced by about 82% or more, population probably by well over 99%. Now exists as "small" populations on three islands. It is not clear whether recovery goals would or would not result in any viable persistent populations, in large part because USFWS correctly points out that population size is unknown and probably unknowable. Besides habitat destruction there are all of the usual threats from exotics. Such threats from alien biocontrol agents (parasitic Diptera and Hymenoptera) and from ants probably cannot be substantially mitigated and preclude recovery to original densities. Similar threats have eliminated several native Hawaiian LEPIDOPTERA and reduced most others.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (17Mar2000)

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 Hawaii (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (01Feb2000)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R1 - Pacific
IUCN Red List Category: NE - Not evaluated

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 100-1000 square km (about 40-400 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Historically, the moth was known from the five largest Hawaiian islands from Kauai to Hawaii island (Zimmerman 1958) and probably occurred on all seven major islands. Today it occurs on Hawaii, Maui and Kaloowahe more or less restircted to tracts of dry forest. The species currently occupies about 18% percent of its known historic range which is probably less than the actual original range.

Area of Occupancy: 126-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Based on USFWS (2003, pp. 45-46) the current occupied habitat is less than 40,000 hectares evn assuming full occupancy of known occupied habitat patches.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: A single population was rediscovered at Kanai, East Maui, in 1984 (Riotte, 1986). That population has persisted. There have been a few discovered since. Most likely all populations on a given island should be treated as a single metapopulatrion occurrence, in which case there would be three. Even if this is not warranted there are probably no more than 5-10.

Population Size: 1 - 2500 individuals
Population Size Comments: There is no real basis for estimation even to order of magmitude. Status survey efforts in the late 1970s had concluded that this species was probably extinct. Subsequent reports merely describe the populations as "small" without defining that term even to order of magnitude. Tthis moth was formerly sometimes locally common on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii (Riotte, 1986; Zimmerman 1958). There are no estimates of current population size and the 2003 Draft Recovery Plan gives no suggestions how such an estimate could be obtained and notes that estimates with mobile, rare species would be especially difficult, if even possible. Furthermore, mark-release-recapture (MRR) is generally impractical without fairly well defined population boundaries (habitats). However the life span of the moths is probably substantially longer (weeks vs. days) than most Lepidoptera for which population estimates have been made, which could be very helpful in getting recaptures and thus possibly useful estimates. There is no other known way besides MRR to reliably estimate Lepidoptera adult numbers in most circumstances and it may simply be too difficult to find and capture adults causing recapture rates to be too low to be useful. There have been extremely few population estimates with any nocturnal moths anywhere. With some pupae in long term diapause at any given time, an estimate based on adults would still in a sense underestimate population.

The best hope for successful MRR might be pheromone lures for males, but these would have to be used very sparingly (perhaps shifting stations for 30-60 minutes per night with none on most nights) to avoid undo disruption of their mate location behavior and arriving males would have to promptly and safely captured, marked, and released soon. Even better might be using tethered reared females as lures and both moths could be marked ventrally and released the same or next evening, depending on how long they remain attached. Tethering is an effective way of securing matings for many Sphingidae, but would have to be tested for safety with this species or a very close surrogate. Problems could arise if females become highly active and fly extensively before mating-which they probably do not. Release of many reared females in the same area could raise larval density and trigger parasite build ups or could cause genetic problems if all females were closely related.

Another difficulty would be interpretation. Even if daily population estimates were possible this species does not resolve into discrete generations. Daily estimates are obviously not an appropriate reporting interval. In most cases with butterfly population estimates the species either has only one generation per year or has two discrete well separated broods such as the Karner Blue has. Population estimates are then for a discrete generation or even both in the same year. For such species effective population size cannot be more but probably is somewhat less than generation size. Probably with Bluckburn's sphinx complete turnover of adults takes several weeks, but any such guess would be a crude approach to estimating generation size and only MRR might (or might not) yield reliable longevity estimates for wild adults. If it were possible to obtain multiple daily estimates by MRR that were either relatively concordant or better had low error margins, estimates for longer intervals are easily made from these by Jolly-Seber or other brood size calculations. If generation size cannot be determined, the number of adults per month might be a reasonable substitute. For now though even daily estimates are not available and might be impossible. Estimates based on larvae would be very difficult since they are probably very cryptic, sparse, and often high off the ground. Further it would be difficult or impossible to determine the proportion of larvae that survive to adults.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None to very few (0-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Some perhaps marginal and in the aggregate perhaps viable, but it seems unlikely any single population could persist long term on its own.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: At least exotic parasitoids and predators are pervasive threats. Other threats occur but are probably all less in scope at least.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Rarity increased between 1940 and 1975 and for a while extinction was presumed (Gagne and Howarth 1985). Although the approximately three known surviving populations are persisting and may be stable.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: USFWS Recovery Plan concludes about an 82% reduction in total range, which would be similar for area of occupancy, but it is exceedingly unlikely that the decline in numbers is anywhere near that small. More likely total numbers have declined by 99%, possibly by more than 99.9%. Species has gone from common to the verge of extinction.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Suitable habitat may still occur on Molokai and Lanai islands, however, searches so far have been negative.

Protection Needs: Greatest neeed appears to be protection from exotic parasitoids and predators which may be impossible. Between exotic plants and goats even protection of the habitat and foodplants will be difficult.

Distribution
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Global Range: (100-1000 square km (about 40-400 square miles)) Historically, the moth was known from the five largest Hawaiian islands from Kauai to Hawaii island (Zimmerman 1958) and probably occurred on all seven major islands. Today it occurs on Hawaii, Maui and Kaloowahe more or less restircted to tracts of dry forest. The species currently occupies about 18% percent of its known historic range which is probably less than the actual original range.

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
Endemism: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States HI

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
HI Hawaii (15001)*, Honolulu (15003)*, Kauai (15007)*, Maui (15009)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
20 Hawaii (20010000)+*, Maui (20020000)+, Molokai (20050000)+*, Oahu (20060000)+*, Kauai (20070000)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A large gray sphingid hawk moth.
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Very capable of moving between islands, although it is not known to what extent they do so.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood, Shrubland/chaparral
Habitat Comments: Inhabits mostly lowland dry forests and shrub lands where the larvae feed on native and a few introduced SOLANACEAE (tobacco family). However adults do wander and larvae have turned up on cultivated Solanaceae.
Adult Food Habits: Nectarivore
Food Comments: The east Maui population rediscovered in 1984 has persisted by feeding on the rare endemic shrub (Nothocestrum latifolium, which is a candidate for listing) and on the weedy tree tobacco, Nicotiana glauca (Riotte 1986; Hawaii Biological Survey, specimen records, 1996). Other species of Nothocestrum are also used regularly. The Kahoolawe population is using the exotic Nicotiana glauca. Note the term foodplant usually refers to larval foodplants and the term nectar plants refers to adult food sources. The former term is used to some extent for both in the Draft Recovery Plan. Morning-glories and other flowers are nectar sources, only Solanaceae are larval foodplants. Adults do not require food to reproduce but as USFWS (2003) discusses, a good nectar supply almost certainly increases egg production.
Phenology Comments: The seasonality of this species is somewhat unclear. Recent documentations of larvae have been from October to May but adults have been collected at least historically in all months. Adults cannot diapause so at least originally all stages must have occurred to some extent all year. USFWS (2003) considers the season to be October to May. There is at least facultative pupal diapause up to about a year. It is unclear how many generations this species has per year but assuming not all pupae diapause (see USFWS, 2003, p. 10) there would definitely be more than one, potentially up to six or seven since a generation takes slightly under two months. Probably between variable diapause and adult longevity, probably about a month if well fed and apparently up to twelve days even without food, the number of generations is undefinable.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Better information on adult nectar sources and the prevalence of pupal diapause would be useful in assessing habitat suitability and population viability. Is this the large, long tongue moth that once pollinated Brighamia and other Hawaiian plants (Asquith, 1995)?
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: An occurrence is a place where immature stages are at least sometimes present. Presence of an adult and suitable larval foodplants may be accepted as documentation. Sight records of adults from inexperienced observers should not be treated as verified EOs due to possible confusion with Agrius cingulatus, unless diagnostic characters like orange rather than pink spots are clearly seen and reported. However larval sightings should be reliable if the foodplant is Solanaceae.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 4 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 20 km
Separation Justification: Numbers are arbitrary but either distance could be easily traversed in an hour.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: NA, there is almost no chance this species could be recovered to such a level.
Good Viability: NA, there is almost no chance this species could be recovered to such a level.
Fair Viability: C rank would apply if an occurrence really appears likely to persist or at least be regualrly recurrant in the long term, that is consistently produces adults in every generation, or if it occasionally does not at least recolonization is likely. At present there is insufficient information to assign this rank and for the short term it seems unlikely any EO Rank other than X, H, D or CD can be justified. If the draft (2003) recovery criteria for possible delisting are met an appropriate EORANK would be CD. There is little basis to assume from five years of stability that an occurrence of a multivoltine insect is really viable especially with no clue as to actual population size. Population size is unknown and probably unknowable and some of the major threats (e.g. from exotic Arthropods) probably cannot be greatly mitigated and could increase rapidly without detection by monitors.
Poor Viability: Recommended for small habitats (few hundred hectares or less) where an occasional adult or larva is seen but that probably cannot consistently support a population or deme.
Justification: There is presently no way to verify that an occurrence is potentially viable. A five year criterion is too short for an insect. Population size is not likely to be known for any EO. Serious and partially uncontrollable threats exist and make assumptions regarding persistence of any occurrence unjustified based on current minimal information.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 15Feb2007
Author: D. F. Schweitzer
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: 26Aug2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: D. F. Schweitzer, and F.G.Howarth (1997 version)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Aug2005
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Schweitzer, Dale 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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  • Asquith, A. 1995. Alien species and the extinction crisis of Hawaii's invertebrates. Endangered Species Update 12(6):6-11.

  • Cuddihy, L.W. and C.P. Stone. 1990. Alteration of Native Hawaiian Vegetation: Effects of humans, their activities and introductions. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 138 pp.

  • Gagne, W. C. and F. G. Howarth. 1985. Conservation status of endemic Hawaiian Lepidoptera. Pages 74-84 in J. Heath (editor). Proc. 3rd Congr. Eur. Lepid. Cambridge, England. 1982.

  • Howarth, F. G. 1991a. Environmental impacts of classical biological control. Anual Review Entolmology 36:485-509.

  • Kitching, I.J. and J.Cadiou. 2000. Hawkmoths of the world. An annotated and illustrated revisionary checklist (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). The Natural History Museum, London. 226 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1997. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; proposed Endangered Status for Blackburn's sphinx moth from the Hawaiian Islands. Federal Register 62(63): 15640-15646. April 2, 1997.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2000. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Endangered Status for Blackburn's Sphinx Moth from the Hawaiian Islands: Final Rule. Federal Register 65 (21): 4770-4779.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2003. Draft Recovery Plan for the Blackburn's sphinx moth (Manduca blackburni). Portland Oregon. ix +13 pp.

  • Zimmerman, E. C. 1958a. Insects of Hawaii. Volume 7. Macrolepidoptera. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 542 pp.

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