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Home > Wildlife > Species Information >Maine Endangered Species Program > Endangered and Threatened Species > Invertebrate List > Pine Barrens Zanclognatha
Pine Barrens Zanclognatha
This small moth with a long name is one of many rare and endangered butterflies and moths found only in pitch pine-scrub oak barrens. The pine barrens zanclognatha is a small, nondescript, brown moth having a wingspan of slightly more than an inch. The wings are nearly uniformly tan with small brown spots and flecks. The body is brown and hairy.
The pine barrens zanclognatha is found in the Northeast from Virginia to Maine. For much of this range, it is only found in pitch pine-scrub oak barrens. In Maine it is found in pine barrens on sandy soils in glacial outwash plains in Fryeburg, Waterboro, and Shapleigh. It seems to prefer a closed pitch pine canopy.
Little is known of this moth's life history. The adults fly at night from June to mid-August. It is locally abundant at many sites where it is found. Eggs are likely laid on or near the host plant, which is thought to be pitch pine. Eggs probably hatch in late spring, or perhaps they overwinter and hatch the following spring. Pupae are suspected to be found on the forest floor. It is believed that this moth is more tolerant of fire suppression than other barrens moths.
Threats to this moth have not been well-documented. Small, separate populations at only three sites led to its listing as threatened in 1997. It is state-listed by other states in the Northeast. Loss of pine barren habitats to commercial and residential development in Maine is the greatest threat. Once pine barrens are developed, it is extremely difficult to manage and perpetuate remaining pitch pine stands by fire. Aerial spraying of pesticides (including Bt), especially for other Lepidoptera like the gypsy moth, can eliminate populations. Conversion of forests to pine plantations destroys habitat. Off-road vehicles may destroy fragile plant communities. Gravel mining permanently destroys habitat.
Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens are rare habitats in Maine and are found at only seven sites in the state. Not all have been surveyed for the pine barrens zanclognatha. Pine barrens are host to a suite of rare species, especially plants and invertebrates that depend on this unique habitat, such as the twilight moth (threatened), Edwards' hairstreak (endangered), and Karner blue butterfly (extirpated). There are 15 species of butterflies and moths recognized as "Special Concern" species associated with the state's pine barrens.
Maine has over half of the remaining pine barrens in New England. Much of Maine's barrens are in conservation ownership. Even so, these sites need active management to maintain their diverse plant and invertebrate fauna. Large blocks of appropriate habitat are necessary for the long-term viability of moth populations.
Pine barrens are rejuvenated by fire, and the pine barrens zanclognatha may depend on this natural disturbance to create young, lush plants for the larvae to eat. If fire is suppressed, pine barrens will slowly mature to red oak and white pine forests that likely would not be able to support the moth. Prescribed burns are a routine management technique in New Jersey.
More work is needed to assess populations, document life history, and determine appropriate habitat management for this species. Population introduction and management techniques are unknown at this time. As a state-threatened species, the pine barrens zanclognatha is protected from possession and collection by the Maine Endangered Species Act.
Most pitch pine-scrub oak
barrens in Maine are in conservation ownership and
are being managed for rare species like the pine barrens zanclognatha.
For more information contact Maine's Endangered Species Program at (207) 941-4466.
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