Rattlesnake-Master Borer Moth

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Rattlesnake-Master Borer Moth (Papaipema eryngi)
Status: Candidate
Listed: N/A

For questions regarding the Rattlesnake-Master Borer Moth in Arkansas, please contact Melissa Lombardi at melissa_lombardi@fws.gov or 501-513-4488.

Species Facts
The rattlesnake-master borer moth is a dark reddish-purplish brown moth with prominent white spots. It is larger than most other closely related species in the Papaipema genus, but is difficult to differentiate between the species in photographs.

Adults are active at night from September through October, but infrequently travel very far from their host plant (<2km). Eggs are laid and overwinter in leaf litter or on old stems. The larvae of this species bore only into stems and roots of the Rattlesnake Master plant (Eryngium yuccafolium). Larvae pupate within the host plant.

Habitat Summary
This species is restricted to mesic prairies and associated wetlands with a large amount of the Rattlesnake Master plant and no fire during the dormant season. Other requirements are unknown.

There is two known sites in Arkansas, 10 known sites in Illinois, one known site in OKlahoma, and a potential site in North Carolina. Little historic data exists for this species before 1994.

Why is it Endangered?
This species has declined even more severely than other prairie moths in this genus. Habitat fragmentation has resulted in extant populations being reduced and isolated; if any of the remaining populations is destroyed, recolonization of the site is unlikely. Development has lead to the destruction of one of the two known sites in Arkansas, as well as sites in other states. The use of fire for habitat management has also negatively affected this species.

This is one of the few moths in the USA for which collectors may pose a threat. There are documented cases of damage to foodplants and larvae by collectors. Populations are also small enough to be vulnerable to overcollecting.

At least two of the remaining colonies are managed and most likely secure, including one in Arkansas that is managed through mowing. Additionally, this species can recover population size quickly if the habitat is managed and foodplants are plentiful and well distributed.

Range in Arkansas:

Arkansas Field Office
110 S. Amity Road
Suite 300
Conway, AR 72032

501/513 4470 (v)
501/513 4480 (f)

Last Updated: December 30, 2015

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