The foodplant of the larva was once so common that it was commercially important as New Jersey Tea, especially around the time of the American Revolution. Now the plant is so reduced that this moth, another related species, and a skipper butterfly whose larvae feed on the leaves of the same plant are probably gone from New Jersey, most of New York, and neighboring states. The Albany Pine Bush is probably the only place in the Northeast where all three still occur. Excessive browsing by deer and loss of brushy and barrens habitats are among the factors in this decline.
In the last few decades, the broad-lined catopyrrha was known to occur only in the Albany Pine Bush and possibly in Saratoga County. This species was formerly much more widespread than it is now. Like other New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) specialists, the Broad-lined Catopyrrha has become very rare or disappeared in all neighboring states. Outside of New York, only two other occurrences are known to be extant east of Ohio. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virgineanus) are a threat at the known locality and have reduced the foodplant there to some extent.
Given the decline in Mottled Duskwing populations, which feed on the same plant, and the damage to the foodplant (New Jersey Tea) by deer and other factors at the Albany Pine Bush, there is little doubt this moth is also declining.
Long-term trends suggest a large to very large decline (75% to greater than 90%) in the population of this species.
The threats include habitat loss and fragmentation, the decline of the once common foodplant (New Jersey Tea), and browsing of the foodplant by deer, although this species is apparently not as sensitive to deer as the Mottled Duskywing, which feeds on the same plant (D. Schweitzer, observations in Pennsylvania). Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) caterpillar spraying or complete burns could also potentially threaten occurrences.
Controlled burns should not include the entire occurrence, Gypsy moth spraying should not be done near the foodplants, and a substantial reduction in the deer herd where this species occurs are all management needs.
In New York, the only currently known population is a cluster of colonies in the Albany Pine Bush. However this species should be looked for at any habitat that has or recently had the Mottled Duskywing which uses the same foodplant (New Jersey Tea), has a similar phenology, and generally seems less likely to persist than the Broad-lined Catopyrrha. As this species declined and disappeared from the Northeast, the last few occurrences were mostly on inland pine barrens, but historically the species was not limited to such places. In adjacent states and provinces, habitats also include or included oak savannas, openings in oak woodland, trap rock glades, and serpentine barrens. The Broad-lined Catopyrrha might occur on alvars or even old fields that have an abundance of the foodplant.
Forbes (1948) states Trenton Falls and south, implying the species was once widespread in New York. This would be expected considering the distribution of the foodplant (New Jersey Tea) and the historical records for the Mottled Duskywing.
The current global distribution is uncertain. It formerly occurred in New England and New Jersey, and is currently found near Albany New York, southeastern Pennsylvania west to about Minnesota and south into Georgia and Texas. The species has disappeared in some other peripheral areas and it appears to have had very few occurrences in Kentucky and probably other places in the center of the range.
A moderate sized (26-32 mm) partially diurnal Geometrid moth that is closely associated with New Jersey Tea in barrens and other dry, brushy places. Note that spring brood adults are much darker grayish than summer brood moths, such as shown by Covell (1984). They are still recognizable by the pink and yellow beneath and the pattern is the same and note the feathered male antennae. The yellowish summer form and gray spring form are illustrated by Holland (1903 Plate XLIII, figures 53 and 54) as different species. McGuffin (1981) has good illustrations. While the upper side varies individually and seasonally, the underside is consistently colorful.
This is a medium-sized pale or grayish geometrid moth with a distinctive yellow and pink underside. The very plain appearance above with the two diffuse but obvious lines on the forewing are also distinctive. Note that the male also has pectinate (parallel projections or divisions) antennae. While the color above varies, this moth is easily identified from pictures. Flushing a moth from New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) from May to July is an immediate clue that it may be this species.
The best life stage for identification is the adult stage, but larvae could be identified by an expert.
The adults can be flushed from New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) clumps or nearby in the daytime. They also are active at night and come to lights and, in the summer, to sugar baits.
Larvae feed on New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) and probably other species of this genus. The feeding habits of the adults are not well know, but they occasionally nectar at these same plants.
There are two broods in mid or late May to early June and much of July; a few may be present earlier in spring or later in JUne. This species overlaps with the Mottled Duskywing (Erynnis martialis) and with both broods of Karner Blue (Plebejus melissa samuelis).
The time of year you would expect to find Broad-lined Catopyrrha reproducing, larvae present and active, and pupae or prepupae present in New York.
Erastria coloraria (Fabricius, 1798)
This species has gone by other generic names especially Catopyrrha. McGuffin, in the Geometridae of Canada, used the species name Cruentaria, which all other authors have applied to a more common southern species. The name Erastria was misapplied to a group of Noctuidae for decades and that is the more familiar usage.
Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden. Oxford University Press, New York. 232 pp.
Brock, J. P., and K. Kaufman. 2003. Butterflies of North America. Kaufman Focus Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
Covell, Charles V. 1984. A field guide to the moths of eastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Ferge, L. A., and G. J. Balogh. 2000. Checklist of Wisconsin Moths (Superfamilies Drepanoidea, Geometroidea, Mimmallonoidea, Bombycoidea, Sphingoidea, and Noctuiodea). Contributions in Biology and Geology of the Milwaukee Public Museum No. 93. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 55 pp. and one color plate.
Forbes, William T. M. 1948. Lepidoptera of New York and neighboring states part II. Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station Memoir 274.
Hodges, R.W. et al., eds. 1983. Check List of the Lepidoptera of America North of Mexico. E.W. Classey Limited and The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation, London. 284 pp.
Holland, W. J. 1903. The moth book. A guide to the moths of North America. Doubleday, Page & company, New York. 479 pp.
McGuffin, W. C. 1981. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera), II Subfamily Ennominae. 3. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada, no. 117: 153 pp.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2020. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Information for this guide was last updated on: December 21, 2007
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2020. Online Conservation Guide for Erastria coloraria. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/broad-lined-catopyrrha/. Accessed April 6, 2020.