Approximately 98% of Jersey jair underwings (Catocala jair ssp. 2) can be distinguished from jair underwings (Catocala jair) by differences in their forewing color alone (NatureServe 2010).
Within New York State, the Jersey jair underwing is known to occur only on Long Island. Currently, three populations are documented. Throughout its range, the moth is generally rare and local, having a spotty distribution and being restricted to major areas of dry oak scrub.
The short-term trend for the Jersey jair underwing in New York State indicates that the population is stable. The species is widespread in the Dwarf Pine Plains. At this site, approximately 180 individuals were captured over the course of seven survey years between 1986 and 2005, indicating that the population is viable and reproducing. The other two documented populations in the state are on protected lands.
The long-term trend for the Jersey jair underwing in New York State is unknown (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2005). However, it is possible that the population has undergone a substantial decline since the extent of its habitat, pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, in the state has been reduced substantially since historic times (Wagner et al. 2003).
Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development is the main threat to moth and butterfly species such as the Jersey jair underwing that inhabit shrublands in southern New England and southeastern New York. Fire suppression and allowing succession may eliminate suitable habitat for the Jersey jair underwing (Wagner et al. 2003), while excessive prescribed burning and wild fires that consume entire occupied habitats are also threats (NatureServe 2010). Lights from adjacent areas such as airports can also disturb the moths.
Maintaining suitable habitat is the main management need. The natural communities that the Jersey jair underwing inhabits require periodic fire or mechanical management for their maintenance. When conducting prescribed burns, it is necessary to retain substantial unburned patches (refugia), since survival of Jersey jair underwings in burned areas is minimal. Therefore, it is ideal for occupied habitats to be subjected to infrequent partial burns (Wagner et al. 2003; NatureServe 2010). In addition, in occupied areas it would be beneficial to restrict ATV use and to minimize lighting to maintain dark sky conditions.
The Jersey jair underwing inhabits dry, open pitch pine-scrub oak barrens and other habitats that contain the larval foodplant, scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia) (Wagner et al. 2003). In New York State, it has been found in several habitats including dwarf pine plains, maritime heathlands, and pitch pine-oak-heath woodlands.
The Jersey jair underwing is known to occur on Long Island.
The Jersey jair underwing has a widespread range, but within that range it has a very spotty distribution and is restricted to major areas of dry oak scrub. It is known mostly from New Jersey and east Texas, but it also occurs in New York (Long Island), eastern North Carolina, the Florida panhandle, and Oklahoma. It likely occurs elsewhere in between (NatureServe 2010).
The Jersey jair underwing is a colorful moth with a wingspan of approximately 35-40 mm. Its forewings contain brown shading between the postmedial and subterminal lines, and its hind wings are yellowish orange, with black only at the border (Covell 1984). The caterpillar is pale gray with uniform gray mottling (Wagner et al. 2008).
The adult is the best life stage for identification.
There is one generation each year. Adults lay their eggs in bark crevices or in the leaf litter at the base of the larval foodplant, scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia). The eggs overwinter. In the spring, larvae (caterpillars) must eat new leaves rather than older, hardened vegetation. The larvae seem to have five instars before pupating and emerging as adults. Adults have a relatively long flight season (Wagner et al. 2008), lasting from early July until early September in New York State.
In southern New England and New York State, larvae feed on scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia).
The best time to see the Jersey jair underwing is during its flight season. In New York State, it has been captured flying from early July until early September.
The time of year you would expect to find Jersey Jair Underwing present and reproducing in New York.
Jersey Jair Underwing
Catocala jair ssp. 2 None
Brou Jr., Vernon A. 2004. A long known and undescribed Catocala in Louisiana. South. Lepid. News 26:74.
Covell, Charles V. 1984. A field guide to the moths of eastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
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. 2023. 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. http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/MainMenu.shtml
Opler, Paul A., Kelly Lotts, and Thomas Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Bozeman, MT: Big Sky Institute. <http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/> (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)
Wagner, David L., Nelson, Michael W., and Schweitzer, Dale F. 2003. Shrubland Lepidoptera of southern New England and southeastern New York: ecology, conservation, and management. Forest Ecology and Management 185: 95-112.
This guide was authored by: Andrea Chaloux
Information for this guide was last updated on: February 7, 2012
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Catocala jair ssp. 2. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/jersey-jair-underwing/. Accessed March 23, 2023.