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Rattlesnake-master borer moth does not warrant Endangered Species Act protection

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the rattlesnake-master borer moth, a red-brown insect with prominent white spots, does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act. The species is found in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma.

In 2013, the agency determined that only 16 populations of the moth remained and listing was warranted, but precluded, by species with more immediate needs. In 2019, the agency completed a second species status assessment and documented 55 populations.

The Service found that populations on nearly 90 percent of the species’ occupied habitat are highly resilient and no loss of range is expected. The agency also determined that the moth is likely to withstand catastrophic events and can adapt to changing conditions.

“While our previous work provided compelling evidence that this moth needed federal protection, new data means we can now say confidently that the species does not meet the threshold for listing,” said Lori Nordstrom, the Service’s assistant regional director for Ecological Services in the Great Lakes Region. “We continue to support conservation efforts within the species’ habitat that can benefit the moth and other species in its ecosystem.”

The rattlesnake-master borer moth is named for its reliance on the rattlesnake master, a prairie plant that is its only food source. Adult borer moths lay their eggs near the plant in the fall where the eggs overwinter under vegetation on the ground. In the spring, larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on leaves of the rattlesnake master until they are ready to burrow into the root of the plant (the plant survives this process). The moth stays in the burrow until late summer when it pupates and adults emerge again in mid-September.

The finding appears in the July 23, 2020, Federal Register.

Contact

Georgia Parham, public affairs specialist
Georgia_Parham@fws.gov, (812) 334-4261 x203

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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