Burgess's Apamea

Apamea burgessi (Morrison, 1874)

Apamea burgessi
Hugh D. McGuinness

Insecta (Insects)
Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Unrankable - Currently unrankable due to lack of information or due to substantially conflicting information about status or trends.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Apparently Secure globally - Uncommon in the world but not rare; usually widespread, but may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.


Did you know?

This moth is thought to be a good colonizer since it is likely to occupy all suitable habitat patches within a few kilometers of a known location at least some of the time.

State Ranking Justification

Forbes (1954) reported that this moth was rare and local except along the coast. Currently, four populations are known to exist in the state.

Short-term Trends

The short-term trend for this species in New York State appears to be stable. At one of four populations known to exist in the state currently, 71 adults were captured in 1995, and 87 adults were captured in 2000. Each of the other three populations were first documented in 2005 or 2007 and have not been surveyed since.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend for this species in New York State is unknown. The moth was described by Forbes (1954) as rare and local except along the coast.

Conservation and Management


This moth is documented in the dwarf pine barrens of Long Island where fire is necessary to maintain the habitat. Suppressing fire in naturally fire-maintained habitats such as pitch pine-scrub oak barrens and allowing habitat succession may eliminate habitat for this moth that feeds on grasses. However, this moth also occurs in other habitats on Long Island, and thus it is not a barrens specialist. In other areas, over grazing by livestock may be a threat; otherwise, livestock grazing may help maintain habitat. Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development are additional threats.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Areas where this moth has been found need to be evaluated to avoid additional encroachment or fragmentation by development. Periodic controlled burns, mechanical management, or grazing is needed to maintain several natural communities where it occurs. Minimizing lighting to maintain dark sky conditions would also be beneficial.



This moth is found in dry, often sandy, areas that contain grasses.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Maritime dunes* (guide)
    A community dominated by grasses and low shrubs that occurs on active and stabilized dunes along the Atlantic coast. The composition and structure of the vegetation is variable depending on stability of the dunes, amounts of sand deposition and erosion, and distance from the ocean.
  • Maritime grassland (guide)
    A grassland community that occurs on rolling outwash plains of the glaciated portion of the Atlantic coastal plain, near the ocean and within the influence of offshore winds and salt spray.
  • Maritime heathland (guide)
    A dwarf shrubland community that occurs on rolling outwash plains and moraine of the glaciated portion of the Atlantic coastal plain, near the ocean and within the influence of onshore winds and salt spray.
  • Pitch pine-oak-heath woodland (guide)
    A pine barrens community that occurs on well-drained, infertile, sandy soils. The structure of this community is intermediate between a shrub-savanna and a woodland. Pitch pine and white oak are the most abundant trees.
  • Sea level fen* (guide)
    A wetland that occurs at the upper edge of salt marshes but is fed primarily by acidic groundwater seeping out along the upland edge. This fresh water sometimes mixes with salt or brackish water during unusually high tides. There is a high abundance of sedges that decompose slowly and create a deep substrate of peat. This peat is underlain by deep sand or gravel. These fens usually have a high diversity of herbs but may also have scattered trees and shrubs.

* probable association but not confirmed.


New York State Distribution

This moth seems to be confined to the coast of Long Island.

Global Distribution

Distribution data for United States and Canadian provinces is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed for this species. The species is known to occur in central and eastern North America in Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin (NatureServe 2010).

Best Places to See

  • Montauk County Park (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

This moth has a patterned brown forewing and mostly white hind wing. Its wingspan is approximately 35-40 mm.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The adult is the best life stage for identification.


This species feeds on grasses.

Best Time to See

The best time to see this species is during its flight season, in September and early October.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Burgess's Apamea present and reproducing in New York.

Burgess's Apamea Images


Burgess's Apamea
Apamea burgessi (Morrison, 1874)

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Arthropoda (Mandibulates)
      • Class Insecta (Insects)
        • Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies, Skippers, and Moths)
          • Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)

Comments on the Classification

Previously, this species was recognized in the genus Crymodes. It has been referred to as Crymodes burgessi and Septis burgessi (Forbes 1954).

Additional Resources


Forbes, William T. M. 1954. Lepidoptera of New York and neighboring states part III. Cornell University Experiment Station Memoir 329.

NatureServe. 2010. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. (Data last updated August 2010)

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

North American Moth Photographers Group at the Mississippi Entomological Museum. No date. Mississippi State University, Mississippi. http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/MainMenu.shtml

Schweitzer, Dale F. 1998. Rare, potentially rare, and historic macrolepidoptera for Long Island, New York: A suggested inventory list.


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Andrea Chaloux

Information for this guide was last updated on: February 8, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Apamea burgessi. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/burgesss-apamea/. Accessed February 25, 2024.