Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Mainly coastal plain and piedmont. Southern Connecticut (formerly or perhaps mislabelled), southern New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, both Carolinas, Georgia, the Florida panhandle to Mississippi. Will be found more widely in the southeastern piedmont and coastal plain.

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

See above, within its range both adult and larva are unique. This is the only large non-Geometrid caterpillar that is obviously adapted for camouflage among cedar foliage.

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Swamps with Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) dominant or at least common anw widely dsitributed in New Jersey and Florida. Otherwise the habitat is unclear because most collections are single moths in ordinary places in regions where red cedar (Juniperus virginiana or J. silicicola) grows. Presumably white cedar is used between New Jersey and Florida but to date there have been no collections of this moth or its larvae in cedar swamps, or even in counties where this tree is native, elsewhere.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Adults do wander at least up to a few km but are usually collected within 100 meters of cedar stands

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) was confirmed as natural foodplant in Florida by H.D. Baggett in 1990 (reared moth determined by Schweitzer) and apparently larvae have been found since then (J.Slotten). C. Maier and D. Wagner have collected larvae on that tree in New Jersey as well, and all captures of the moth there are within a kilometer or so of this common tree and most in cedar swamps. Schweitzer reared larvae from a white cedar associated population and they did extremely well on red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) also and all known collections of this moth outside of New Jersey and Florida are in counties where Atlantic White Cedar does not occur. Such populations are obviously using Juniperus. Collections of adults in these states are typically singletons in ordinary places, usually at lights. Larvae feed on the new foliage initially but as they mature they also eat the older foliage.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 to >300

Comments: Probably widely overlooked, abundant potential habitat, apparently nearly all unoccupied at lest northward but might be much more widespread than now realized in New Jersey and the Carolinas especially.

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Global Abundance

10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Apparently not very common for a moth but widespread.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: Adults hibernate, and in New Jersey occur from November into April, rarely even May, with mating mostly in March. Larvae are slow growing and occur from late April to late June, with a few into July. The adult season starts later, is shorter, and the larvae occur earlier, southward. Fully fed prepupal larvae aestivate in a cocoon in soil, litter, or on tree trunks, from about end of June though September in New Jersey longer southward, before pupating in autumn.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lithophane lemmeri

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: This moth may be widespread and secure in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia where it is associated with red cedar. However, this is speculative and not supported by collections. Since this species seems to be using only whte cedar in Florida and the tree occurs in few places there, S1 or S2 would probably apply. In New Jersey the species is much more widespread since white cedar is common there. The fact that this moth is very difficult to collect by ordinary means makes the paucity of actual records difficult to interpret. It is clear though the species is not restricted to high quality natural habitats. This moth is not imperiled and perhaps is secure, but based on actual records, this species could really be globally uncommon to rare, and it may really be very rare outside of New Jersey.

Other Considerations: This species is very difficult to collect. So this species is easy to overlook. It usually will not come to bait even where present and species of this genus cannot be reliably sampled as adults by any other method although thy occasionally do come to lights, this one more so than most. Limited recent evidence in New Jersey suggests larvae might be much more easily sampled. Although adults are occasionally occasionally attracted to bait in substantial numbers in New Jersey, this is very unpredictable in terms of both year (most recently apparently 1946 and the winter of 2006-2007) and time of year (any time from November to at least March).

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Global Short Term Trend: Unknown

Comments: A weak case could be made for decline in New Jersey based on fewer modern collections despite increased effort.

Global Long Term Trend: Unknown

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Threats

Degree of Threat: High

Comments: Mainly loss of habitat. White cedar is a very valued wood. Red cedar stands often destroyed for coastal developments, but this moth presumably can survive in residential areas where the host cedars remain unless these are subject to neav biocide use (against mosquitos) in late spring-early summer. Surprisingly tolerant of BTK so gypsy moth spraying probably not a big threat when this is used.

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Management

Global Protection: Several to many (4-40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview:
Logging and deer would seem to be the main concerns in white cedar swamps, although with good management some harvest is consistent with persistence if deer can be kept at low levels and cedar regenerates well. Development and succession are more likely threats to Red Cedar associated populations. The only obvious need seems to be occurrence of substantial (generally > 40 hectare) cedar stands in reasonable proximity to each other or simply numerous scattered patches of cedars over a large area. In southern New Jersey there is some white cedar along almost every stream, which is probably why the moth is primarily known from there. Habitats there are second to fourth growth but usually are composed mostly of relatively mature trees. In the piedmont areas, patches of Red Cedars are smaller. Fire can be important in the long-term dynamics of white cedar swamps but in the short-term fire kills most of the trees. Prescribed burning is usually not carried out in cedar swamps. The early instars are remarkably tolerant of Btk even in laboratory assays with most treated second instars producing normal adults (Peacock et al. 1998) after some initial slowing of growth. So a healthy population would obviously survive a field application of Btk and drift or even direct application would not be a concern with this species--but would be for associated rarities like Hessel's Hairstreak in white cedar swamps. However all individuals would be early or mid-instar larvae, so mortality in chemical applications would probably be similar to that for Gypsy Moth larvae and lethal residue from persistent chemicals like Dimilin could possibly last for more than one season on the cedar hosts.

It is well known (since about 1960) in New Jersey that large deer populations can greatly impede or outright prevent white cedar regeneration after wildfire or harvest. The ecology of Atlantic white cedar is quite well known to most foresters who manage it. The basic need of L. lemmeri and other specialists is continuous presence of a substantial number of white cedars, and they may need to be about ten meters tall. None of these specialists need virgin stands. Too little is known about the ecology and needs of red cedar associated populations to suggest management concerns beyond maintaining the trees themselves.

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Wikipedia

Lithophane lemmeri

Lemmer's Noctuid Moth or Lemmer's Pinion (Lithophane lemmeri) is a moth of the Noctuidae family. It is found in the Eastern parts of the United States and adjacent areas in Canada.

The wingspan is about 40 mm. The moth flies from June to July depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Atlantic white-cedar and Eastern red-cedar.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: An outlier of a complex of species in the southwest US; all feed on CUPRESSACEAE and the group seems to merit at least subgeneric status. Previous questions (e.g. see Schweitzer, 1989) regarding conspecificity of various east coast populations have been mostly resolved by him. Specimens from Missouri are a new species (very different male genitalia). Those from New Jersey and Connecticut to Florida and Mississippi are all true Lithophane lemmeri.

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