The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today a final decision to list the bog buck moth, a large black-and-white moth found in central New York and Ontario, Canada, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. A review of the best available science indicates the species is at risk of extinction throughout its narrow range. The bog buck moth is also 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 loss,, and increased flooding associated with . The populations in the U.S. and Canada are isolated from each other and are more vulnerable to threats during natural population fluctuations, or “boom-and-bust" cycles. In 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. Federal protection will raise awareness about the threats this species faces and strengthen existing partnerships to support its recovery.
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 bodies 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, which have receptors to detect the pheromones of females, and red tipped abdomens.
The final rule and supporting information are available online in the Federal Register reading room.
Today’s announcement comes as the ESA turns 50 years old in 2023. Throughout the year, the Department of the Interior will celebrate the ESA's importance in preventing imperiled species' extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend.
The ESA has been highly effective and credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status, and hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.