Hello everyone, I was recently checking the conservation status of the moths I had observed and I came across something odd. One of the more common moths at my light, Marimatha nigrofimbria, was listed as critically endangered in New York state. As I investigated further I found that this moth was only known from 2 sites in New York state, both of which were on long island (https://guides.nynhp.org/black-bordered-lemon-moth/). But I’ve been supposedly seeing this moth in Albany county, New York (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/95019652). Others have also seen this moth outside of long island (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/143181-Marimatha-nigrofimbria). Does anyone have any idea how this could be? Thank you for your assistance.
I am not knowledgable on this particular moth, but I would point out that it is not at all unusual for iNatters to discover new information about the distribution of uncommon or rare species.
This might be worth writing up somewhere I guess.
I would definitely report it to the heritage program, yours is one of the more northern occurrences. The information on their page may be out of date.
That kind of observation/data is always exciting. If you decide to do anything with it, there are a couple of observations on Bugguide outside Long Island, one in Dutchess, and one in Westchester. Those might be duplicated here, but if not, you can use that data if you continue to look into this. (There’s one additional NY Bugguide entry in Kings County.)
Jason Dombroskie (@jasondombroskie) and Hugh McGuinness (@hughmcguinness) are doing an inventory of moths found in New York. You might want to draw this to their attention.
Adding to what is known about the distribution of species is where iNaturalist shines most. But just because a species is listed as endangered at the state level doesn’t really say much about the species itself. A state border may simply be at the edge of a species’ range and the species may be very abundant elsewhere. Perhaps that’s the case here. That in no way diminishes the value of your observations, though.
Interesting. I’ve wondered if this region has been somewhat undersampled for pollinator biodiversity. Sometimes interesting things can turn up in unexpected areas, also including areas that are more natural/less developed. The only thing I might recommend is first ensuring this is the endangered species. I don’t know this genus, but the taxa page shows at least two other species with superficial similarity. It might be worth examining identification keys, showing the photos to experts, etc., unless you already have.
Hello @bdagley , it appears that the other species that look similar to this moth are tropical and subtropical species. (http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=9045)
First, @wendyjegla welcome to the forum!
New York appears to be towards the northern edge of Marimatha nigrofimbrias range ( Moth Photographers Group – Marimatha nigrofimbria – 9044 (msstate.edu), Species Marimatha nigrofimbria - Black-bordered Lemon Moth - Hodges#9044 - BugGuide.Net), although I don’t always trust MPG range maps. The lack of sampling is the main reason that range is often patchy. I’ve been involved in the identification of several moths that had not been recorded in an area (one extended the range over 500km to the west). As folks have said, a species might be rare in one region but common as dirt in another. The best way to proceed with this is to follow the advice of @caththalictroides .
if you are interested in this species you might also try mapping the prevalence of its host plants. Sounds like one of them is a crabgrass, is that spreading in range? if so the moth may do so too. Looks like the other host plant is a salt marsh plant? But that was just a look based on wikipedia. In some cases salt tolerant plants have spread inland where road salt is used to melt ice on roads.
I also wonder if it’s more common in the Albany Pine Bush. Of course I can’t think of an example off the top of my head, but other species that are more common in maritime sandy areas can also be found in inland pine barrens.
I know the APB Preserve has moth nights occasionally, but I don’t know how, or if, the sightings are documented.
It looks like I might have that species of crabgrass in my yard, I highly doubt that the species of salt marsh plant is near my yard, but I will keep on the lookout.
Well, and you’ll know this, the Karner blue butterfly subspecies is common in the Pine Bush, and in some other areas proximate to this general area.
Also I’ll just comment, with over a million iNat users worldwide, I’m surprised Albany has come up in the forum.
Just in case anyone is curious about what has happened with this I have privately messaged @ jasondombroskie about these observations.