Chocolate Renia

Renia nemoralis Barnes and McDunnough, 1918

Renia nemoralis (Chocolate Renia Moth) (female)
Jim Vargo

Insecta (Insects)
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 species is part of the Noctuidae family which is the largest family of Lepidoptera, with about 2,900 species in N. America and 20,000 worldwide (Covell 1984).

State Ranking Justification

There are three known extant occurrences in New York on Long Island. Specimens have been taken only a few times despite significant effort in what would seem to be appropriate habitat.

Short-term Trends

The short-term trends are unknown.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trends are unknown.

Conservation and Management


The threats to this species in New York State are uncertain. Artifical lighting and insecticide use are potential threats. Artificial lighting can: increase predation risk, disrupt behaviors such as feeding, flight, and reproduction, and interfere with dispersal between habitat patches. In addition, many individuals die near the light source. It is not known if the impact of artificial lighting is severe, but the impact is likely greater for small, isolated populations (Schweitzer et al. 2011). In addition, the use of insecticides and biocontrols can eliminate or greatly impact many non-target species populations.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Minimizing lighting to maintain dark sky conditions would be beneficial. When lighting is necessary, it's best to use lights that emit red or yellow light because insects are generally not attracted to those colors. However, many sodium lights, which emit yellow light, are so bright that they do attract some insects. The best lighting appears to be low pressure sodium lights which have little effect on flying insects (Schweitzer et al. 2011).

Insecticide use should be avoided when possible if rare species are present. When insecticide use cannot be avoided, careful planning along with consistent rare species monitoring, can result in successful eradication of the target species without eliminating rare species. A biocontrol alternative is Bacillus thuringiensis (Btk) for some target species, such as spongy moths. However, sensitivity to Btk varies among native species, this option should be fully researched for treatment timing and regimes and weighed with other options to have the least impact on native lepidopteran populations (Schweitzer et al. 2011).

Research Needs

Additional research is needed to determine the habitat requirements and foodplant preferences.



In New York, chocolate Renia has been captured in maritime grasslands and maritime dunes. One site was a "small patch of maritime grassland" within a maritime shrubland.

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 shrubland* (guide)
    A shrubland community that occurs on dry seaside bluffs and headlands that are exposed to offshore winds and salt spray.

* probable association but not confirmed.


New York State Distribution

Schweitzer (1998) thinks this species is confined to Long Island and vicinity.

Global Distribution

Chocolate Renia can be found from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts south to Florida and west to Indiana and Texas (Covell 1984).

Best Places to See

  • Shadmoor State Park (Suffolk County)
  • Hither Hills State Park (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Chocolate Renia is approximately 2.5-3 cm wide. The males are grayish brown. The females are a deep buff to reddish. The wings are smooth or mottled. The antemedial line is dark and even with an outward curve. As with all Renia species, the males have tufts on their antennae (Covell 1984).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification



According to Wagner et al. (2011), chocolate Renia diet consists of dead leaves and organic matter.

Best Time to See

According to Covell (1984), adults can be found from July to August rangewide, while Schweitzer (1998) stated the moths can be found August to September. Specific information for New York is not available at this time.

  • Present
  • Active

The time of year you would expect to find Chocolate Renia present and active in New York.

Chocolate Renia Images


Chocolate Renia
Renia nemoralis Barnes and McDunnough, 1918

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

Additional Resources


Covell, Charles V. 1984. A field guide to the moths of eastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

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

NatureServe. 2011. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed: April 17, 2012 ).

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

Schweitzer, D.F., M.C. Minno, and D.L. Wagner. 2011. Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States. USFS Technology Transter Bulletin, FHTET-2009-02.

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

Wagner, D.L., D.F. Schweitzer, J. Bolling Sullivan, R.C. Reardon. 2011. Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: June 26, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Renia nemoralis. Available from: Accessed July 23, 2024.