Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Proposes Endangered Species Act Protection for Rare Moth
The bog buck moth faces extinction throughout its range

October 13, 2021


Bridget Macdonald, USFWS


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today a proposal to protect the bog buck moth, a large black-and-white moth found in central New York and Ontario, Canada, under the Endangered Species Act. A review of the best available science suggests the species is at risk of extinction throughout its narrow range. The bog buck moth is currently federally protected in Canada and by the State of New York. 

Down from five known historical populations, the three existing populations of bog buck moth — one in the U.S. and two in Canada — face growing threats from habitat alteration, invasive species, and climate change. These populations are isolated from each other and are more vulnerable to threats during natural population fluctuations, or “boom-and-bust" cycles. During years when conditions are favorable, bog buck moth populations can grow, or “boom,” but during years when conditions are unfavorable, the populations can crash, or “bust,” in response to disease, predation, or parasites.  

Habitat loss or alteration resulting from land-use change has made it harder for the species to recover from these periodic steep declines in part because they cannot disperse to sites where conditions are better. To persist into the future, populations of bog buck moth need to be large enough, and have access to enough suitable habitat, to withstand natural fluctuations. Maintaining healthy populations at different climate gradients is also important to ensure this species retains the ability to adapt to changing conditions. 

With black-and-gray wings that span nearly 2.5 inches — the length of your index finger — bog buck moths are large and bold. They have fuzzy black abdomens and translucent black-and-gray wings with wide, white bands and eyespots: circular markings meant to mimic eyes to scare away predators. Males have feathery antennae with receptors to detect the pheromones of females, and red tipped abdomens. 

The proposal to protect the bog buck moth under the federal Endangered Species Act published in the Federal Register on October 14, 2021, under docket number: FWS–R5‒ES–2021–0029. Public comments will be accepted until December 13, 2021. A final decision to list or withdraw the proposal is typically made within a year after the proposal.   

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