Fringed Dart

Eucoptocnemis fimbriaris (Guenée, 1852)

Fringed Dart
Jim Vargo

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
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
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?

Many darts overwinter as larvae (caterpillars). The larvae continue to feed and grow throughout the winter at temperatures of approximately 5 degrees Celsius and above (Wagner et al. 2008).

State Ranking Justification

Within New York State, the fringed dart is known to occur only on Long Island. Its specific habitat is poorly known. However, coastal pine barrens habitats on Long Island have been trapped extensively, yielding only five populations in these and other habitats. It seems to be uncommon to rare in the northern part of its range, including New York State (Covell 1984).

Short-term Trends

The short-term trend for the fringed dart in New York State seems to be stable. At one documented population, the numbers of adults that were captured during surveys in 1995 (17) and 2000 (16) were stable, indicating that the population is viable and reproducing. Most of the five documented populations are on protected lands.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend for the fringed dart in New York State seems to be declining (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2005). The species inhabits sandy areas, which have been prone to development on Long Island.

Conservation and Management


Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development are threats to the fringed dart. In addition, fire suppression and allowing natural succession may eliminate suitable habitat, yet improperly planned fires could wipe out populations.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Maintaining suitable habitat is the main management need. Although the fringed dart occupies a variety of habitats in addition to pine barrens, several of the natural communities that it occupies in New York State require periodic fire or mechanical management to maintain the natural community. A recent study that was conducted to investigate the effect of prescribed burns on moths in scrub-oak barrens on Long Island found that the abundance of species that feed on forbs, such as the fringed dart, did not increase after burns. This was attributed to the fact that fires in the studied habitat removed the biomass of the shrub layer but did not open up new areas, which would have led to increased forb abundance (McGuinness 2009). In 2005, a fringed dart was captured in an area of a pine barrens habitat that had burned during a wildfire in 1995 (McGuinness 2006). During prescribed burns, some areas should be left unburned to provide refugia for the fringed dart and allow for its later recolonization of burned areas. In addition, it would be beneficial to restrict ATV use and minimize lighting in order to maintain dark sky conditions in occupied areas.

Research Needs

Research is needed to identify larval foodplants, in order to better define suitable habitat.



The fringed dart inhabits sandy, grassy habitats (NatureServe Explorer 2010). In New York State, it has been found in several habitats including maritime grasslands, maritime heathlands, pitch pine-oak-heath woodlands, and pitch pine-scrub oak barrens.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • 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.
  • Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens (guide)
    A shrub-savanna community that occurs on well-drained, sandy soils that have developed on sand dunes, glacial till, and outwash plains.

* probable association but not confirmed.


New York State Distribution

The fringed dart is known to occur on Long Island.

Global Distribution

The fringed dart occurs from New Hampshire to Florida, west to Indiana and Texas (Covell 1984).

Best Places to See

  • Montauk County Park (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

The fringed dart has two color phases. Its forewings can be light gray or red. Wings of both colors have similar markings. The antemedial (AM) and postmedial (PM) lines are composed of black and white dots. The reniform spot is yellowish, with blackish edges, and is surrounded by dark gray scaling. The terminal line consists of black spots. Black patches are along the anterior margin, at the top of the AM and PM lines. The hind wings are dirty white, with grayish-brown shading and a faint median line consisting of dark dots. The wingspan is 25-32 mm (Covell 1984). Caterpillars of darts are robust and smooth. Within any given dart species, caterpillars tend to exhibit variable colors and patterns (Wagner et al. 2008).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The adult is the best life stage for identification.


The life history of the fringed dart is poorly known. The species has one brood each year (Covell 1984). Larvae (caterpillars) tunnel underground during the day. Larvae overwinter. Pupation occurs in a chamber underground (Wagner et al. 2008).


The larval foodplants are unknown, but larvae probably feed on a variety of forbs and low plants such as grasses and herbs (Covell 1984; Wagner et al. 2008; NatureServe 2010).

Best Time to See

The best time to see the fringed dart is during its flight season. In New York State, it has been captured flying from late September until early October.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Fringed Dart present and reproducing in New York.

Fringed Dart Images


Fringed Dart
Eucoptocnemis fimbriaris (Guenée, 1852)

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

Additional Resources


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

McGuinness, Hugh D. 2009. Moths of fire: a study of the macro-lepidoptera in burned and unburned plots at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Sarnoff Preserve in Flanders, Suffolk County, New York. 2006-2008. Report for the Long Island Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

McGuinness, Hugh. 2006. Overview of the 2005 Dwarf Pine Plains data.

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

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

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 2005. Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Planning Database. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

North American Moth Photographers Group at the Mississippi Entomological Museum. No date. Mississippi State University, Mississippi.

Opler, Paul A., Kelly Lotts, and Thomas Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Bozeman, MT: Big Sky Institute. <> (accessed May 2010).

Wagner, D. L., D. F. Schweitzer, J. B. Sullivan, and R. C. Reardon. 2008. Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America (Lepidoptera: Noctudiae)


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Andrea Chaloux

Information for this guide was last updated on: February 10, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Eucoptocnemis fimbriaris. Available from: Accessed April 16, 2024.