endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Massachusetts, formerly New Hampshire, and probably currently southern Maine, west in very scattered colonies across New York, Pennsylvania and Barry County Michigan (an oak associated population adults and larvae verified by Schweitzer). South of about 39-40 degrees north much more widespread from southern New Jersey west through southern Ohio and southern Indiana to Missouri south to Texas. In the southern mountains fairly generally to Georgia. Status on the piedmont much less clear and apparently local in the coastal plain south of the DELMARVA peninsula. Widespread but status unclear in Florida. Falsely reported from Wisconsin and northern Illionois and elsewhere in the upper Midwest. See "HEMILEUCA species 3".
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hemileuca maia
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Although listed as endangered or threatened in several northeastern states, overall this is a common species and quite adaptable in some parts of its range. A subspecies from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Long Island, New York and PEIGLERI are of conservation concern, as is the species as a whole in Michigan, Pennsylvania and north and east of New Jersey.
Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Comments: Very specialized in northernmost parts of range but from New Jersey to Missouri, Florida and Louisiana buckmoths can occur rather widely in a variety of usually dry oak dominated, or sometimes even mixed hardwood, forests and woodlands and in Louisiana also in urban areas.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Degree of Threat: Medium
Comments: Isolated pine barrens populations are threatened, vulnerable or extirpated north of about Latitude 40, but common in some more southern areas. Attains minor pest status in a few southern cities (e.g. Baton Rouge) on live oaks and was briefly an outbreak pest around 1990 on the Delmarva soon after massive gypsy moth control efforts with Dimilin obliterated local oak woods Lepidoptera fauna and presumably parasitoids that utilized them. H. MAIA has never been reported as destructive anywhere in any natural situation.
Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
The Buck Moth (Hemileuca maia) is a common insect found in oak forests, stretching in the United States from the south east to the north east and as far west as Texas and Kansas. The larvae typically emerge in a single generation in the spring. The larvae are covered in hollow spines that are attached to a poison sac. The poison can cause symptoms ranging from itching and burning sensations to nausea.
Mature larvae enter the soil to pupate in late June and emerge between October and December as moths to mate and lay eggs. Eggs are typically laid in spiral clusters on oak twigs. In Louisiana, particularly in cities such as Baton Rouge or New Orleans, where use of live oaks as street trees is extensive, the caterpillars can become a significant nuisance for humans. The caterpillars of this moth can also be found in some areas of Virginia, such as the Goshen Scout Reservation, where they are infamous for stinging people going to a summer camp in the area.
- "Card for '''''maia''''' in LepIndex. Accessed 22 September 2007". Internt.nhm.ac.uk. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- "Bug Guide for '''''Hemileuca maia''''' Accessed 2008.12.12". Bugguide.net. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- "University of Kentucky Entomology page for "Stinging Caterpillars" Accessed 2008.12.12". Ca.uky.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- Auburn University Department of Entomology page for "Buck Moth". Accessed 2008.12.12.
- "Louisiana Insect Pest 2012 Management Guide". 2012.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: A complex, polytypic species. Almost every northern population cluster is a little different at least in larval color. Biological differences between some populations are also substantial but all feed primarily on oak. Populations north of 39 deg. N. are isolated and mostly separable as larvae. For now, three subspecies are recognized in this database, two in most literature. Subspecies H. maia peigleri in central Texas is isolated, distinctive and possibly a separate species. Coastal barrens (Cape Cod-Long Island) populations are the next most distinctive and are also treated separately in this database. Strictly speaking these are probably the nominotypical populations of the species since the Type from "New York" almost certainly came from Long Island. Populations from peninsular Florida need to be critically examined. Otherwise extreme northern populations such as around Albany, New York, Montague, Massachusetts and probably a few (5-10) other places from Maine to Barry County, Michigan can be characterized by having the darkest variants of larvae fixed at nearly or quite 100% of the population and their adults are relatively normal, specifically not small or as translucent as the coastal barrens version. Such dark larval morphs occur at lower frequencies widely farther south (but apparently not on Long Island and coastal New England). It does not seem warranted to cite such a lack of larval variation as a basis for subspecies status for Albany and Montague populations. Too few larvae have been seen from other inland populations north of Pennsylvania and southern Ohio to characterize them, but one last instar from Michigan is fairly dark with no obvious stripes. Populations north and east of New Jersey show a very strong preference for shrub oaks (Quercus ilicifolia, Q. prinoides) for oviposition. Those in southern New Jersey west and south apparently use almost any oak in the habitat with little preference and do not disproportionally select Q. ilicifolia even where it is readily available.
Wetland populations (mostly willow feeding) are completely pre-zygotically isolated from MAIA by incompatible pheromone and generally easily separable as eggs, larvae, and more than 98% of examples by a lack of a waxy cuticle on the pupa--in addition to the obvious major habitat differences. These are the Great Lakes populations populations of Tuskes et al. (1996). Such populations grade across Wisconsin into the taxon H. latifascia, almost universally synonymized with H. nevadensis by recent workers. The oldest name in the complex is Hemileuca maia and so Tuskes et al. are perfectly justified in calling this entire assemblage the maia complex. This does not infer, and they do not claim, that any such populations are H. maia. It appears that use of oaks as the primary foodplant is a constant in all populations of H. maia. So east of Texas use of oak as the primary foodplant may be used as a working definition for H. MAIA if one cannot asses other characters.
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