Macaria exonerata - (Ferguson, 2008)
Barrens Itame
Other English Common Names: barrens itame
Synonym(s): Itame sp. 1 nr. inextricata ;Speranza exonerata Ferguson, 2008
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.116653
Element Code: IILEU09X10
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Other Moths
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Geometridae Macaria
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Ferguson, D.C. 2008. Moths of America North of Mexico. Fascicle 17.2. Geometroidea, Geometridae, Ennominae (part: Abaxini, Cassymini, Macariini). The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation. 430 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B08FER01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Speranza exonerata
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly called Itame sp. 1 nr. inextricata in this database. Called Itame inceptaria in Forbes (1948), an improper application of that name.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Mar2008
Global Status Last Changed: 14Aug2003
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Limited range and few occurrences outside of New Jersey and restricted mostly to high quality pine barrens--an uncommon community type. Furthermore it is absent from some seemingly good pine barrens (such as those that formerly existed at Concord, New Hampshire) and quite scarce at some others (such as Albany, New York). The global rank is heavily weighted by its rather wide apparent distribution in the New Jersey Pinelands where it might be considered secure if better studied there. This rank could change to globally secure with more collecting effort in the southern Appalachians if the species were to turn up widely south of Pennsylvania--which so far there is no indication it will.
Nation: United States
National Status: NNR

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 (S1), Maine (S1), Massachusetts (S2S3), New Hampshire (S1S2), New Jersey (S3), New York (S1S3), Pennsylvania (S1), Virginia (S1S3)

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: A very few inland pine barrens in Maine, New Hampshire, western Massachusetts, New York, the Poconos region of Pennsylvania. More widespread in the Cape Cod and Islands region of Massachusetts and probably on Long Island, New York. Fairly ubiquitous in the pine barrens part of Ocean, Burlington and northern Atlantic Counties of New Jersey with an isolated population in Salem County. A known population at Goshen, Virginia may indicate a wider Appalachian range.

Area of Occupancy: 501 to >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Probably occupies at least a few tens of thousands of acres in New Jersey, possibly 20,000 acres in Massachusetts with all other occurrences in and north of Pennsylvania perhaps another 10,000 acres. No basis to assess south of PA with just one poorly known site. Often persists on pine barrens remnants as small as 200-1000 acres, although unlikely it would survive a large fires in such a remnant. Has occasionally turned up on small ridgetop scrub oak areas of only a few hectares.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: EOs are probably undefineable in the New Jersey Pinelands, but otherwise apparently under 20 documented. However, there is considerable uncertainty as to distribution and number of EOs in the mountains south of Pennsylvania.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Especially in New England this can be very numerous where found.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to many (13-125)

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Continues to loose habitats in some parts of the range. Some populations such as Albany, new york and montague, Massachusetts are on reduced and/or small habitats. Smaller occurrences are vulnerable to wildfires. Most occurrences are vulnerable to succession from fire suppression. Hard to assess threats in New Jersey.

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

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Probably has not declined much in New Jersey but has lost most suitable habitat in the rest of its range to the north of there.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Greatest potential for finding new occurrences seesm to be ridge top scrub oak areas from western Massachusetts to Virginia. Perhaps also West Virginia but most potential habitat there has been sprayed with Dimilin in recent decades.

Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) A very few inland pine barrens in Maine, New Hampshire, western Massachusetts, New York, the Poconos region of Pennsylvania. More widespread in the Cape Cod and Islands region of Massachusetts and probably on Long Island, New York. Fairly ubiquitous in the pine barrens part of Ocean, Burlington and northern Atlantic Counties of New Jersey with an isolated population in Salem County. A known population at Goshen, Virginia may indicate a wider Appalachian 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.

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 CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, VA

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005)
MA Barnstable (25001), Dukes (25007), Essex (25009), Franklin (25011), Hampden (25013), Plymouth (25023), Worcester (25027)
NH Carroll (33003)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Burlington (34005), Camden (34007), Gloucester (34015), Ocean (34029), Salem (34033)
NY Albany (36001), Orange (36071), Suffolk (36103)
PA Carbon (42025), Luzerne (42079), Monroe (42089)
VA Rockbridge (51163)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Saco (01060002)+, Nashua (01070004)+, Middle Connecticut (01080201)+, Lower Connecticut (01080205)+, Westfield (01080206)+, Charles (01090001)+, Cape Cod (01090002)+, Housatonic (01100005)+
02 Mohawk (02020004)+, Middle Hudson (02020006)+, Hudson-Wappinger (02020008)+, Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+*, Lehigh (02040106)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+*, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna (02050107)+, Maury (02080202)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: See description under the incorrect name Itame inceptaria in Forbes (1948). An average size nocturnal Itame with the male suggestive of I. argillacearia and the female most like I. inextricata in pattern and also has contrasty hindwings but not nearly as orange.
General Description: Needs to be done by an expert or with a good reference series. Forewing rather plain brown, male esp. can run grayish. Normal markings weak. Hindwing contrasting powdery with some small dark spots and a general yellowish to slightly orangish color. Underside colored much like hindwing above. See also Forbes'(1948) description under the name ITAME INCEPTARIA.
Diagnostic Characteristics: See Forbes (1948). 25 mm. Can be recognized from range and the illustrations but several other Itame are somewhat similar. Note the postmedian line of the forewing of both sexes that is well defined but not enlarged and darkened at the costa. The slightly yellowish (but never bright yellow) hindwing of the female and underside of both sexes should be diagnostic.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Very local and a weak flier. Adults probably do not wander far.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Virtually confined to high quality pitch pine-scrub oak barrens north of New Jersey. In New Jersey most common in similar habitats and also possibly resident in pitch pine lowlands. In all cases lightly wooded with extensive scrub oak, lowbush blueberry. In New Jersey, sometimes occurs, but not abundantly, in more closed canopy oak-pine woods but apparently only when there is a lot of scrub oak in the understory. Habitat at the Goshen, Virgina site is unlear, but scrub oak is present. In New Jersey very local and strongly associated with scrub oak stands south of the Mullica river, much more widespread in the true pine barrens to the north.
Adult Food Habits: Unknown
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: The larval foodplant of this species appears to be scrub oak (QUERCUS ILICIFOLIA) based on a single larval collection by Tim McCabe in New York. However most (not all) other species in this genus feed on Ericaceae (usually VACCINIUM) or RIBES. Since most or all habitats lack RIBES that is ruled out. As far as known all collections have been in or very near (New Jersey) scrub oak stands, but lowbush blueberry is always also abundant and currently cannot be ruled out.
Adult Phenology: Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Eggs hibernate in this genus. Larvae feed in spring. Pupal period is brief. Pupae probably in soil. Adult flight season seems variable depending on place in New Jersey but is sometime between about June 10 and July 20, typically about two weeks, usually in July northward. Flight season is brief,
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Only the brief pupal stage might have any protection from fires, but top-kill of the scrub oaks during this period would probably cause females from surviving pupae to leave the area rather than oviposit on the dead stems. Survival in fires at other seasons would be very low at best. Gypsy Moth defoliation could be a real threat if it were to occur before larvae mature, although in most cases it would probably be later. While southern New Jersey and coastal New England habitats generally escape serious defoliation, some northern New England scrub oak barrens can be subject to rather chronic defoliation of scrub oaks-added to loss of spring oak foliage to late freezes once or twice per decade. Either Gypsy Moth outbreaks or more likely Gypsy Moth spraying could explain the general absence of the species in small barrens today. Larvae would be exposed in early to mid instars during typical BTK applications aimed at gypsy moth larvae. There is no basis to suggest which would have a greater impact, BTK or severe defoliation and the answer might depend on the precise timing of both.

Biological Research Needs: Verify foodplant acceptance and use.
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: 30Mar2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Management Information Edition Date: 19Mar2007
Management Information Edition Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 19Mar2007
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).

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

  • Ferguson, D.C. 2008. Moths of America North of Mexico. Fascicle 17.2. Geometroidea, Geometridae, Ennominae (part: Abaxini, Cassymini, Macariini). The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation. 430 pp.

  • Forbes, W.T.M. 1948. Lepidoptera of New York and Neighbor- ing States. Part II: Geometridae, Sphingidae, Notodontidae, Lymantriidae. Memoir 274. Cornell U. Agric. Experiment Station. 263 PP.

  • Forbes, William T. M. 1948. Lepidoptera of New York and neighboring states part II. Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station Memoir 274.

  • 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., B. Patterson and J.P.  Pelham. 2016. Annotated taxonomic checklist of the Lepidoptera of North America, North of Mexico. Working paper published online by the authors at (May 2016). 766 pp. Online:

  • 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. 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.

  • Sihvonen, P. and P. Skou. 2015. Ennominae I. In A. Hausmann (ed.), The Geometrid Moths of Europe, vol 5. Brill, Leiden, 657 pp,

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