Packard's Lichen Moth

Cisthene packardii (Grote, 1863)

Packard's Lichen Moth
Hugh D. McGuinness

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
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

Larvae of Packard's lichen moth feed on lichens.

State Ranking Justification

The status and distribution of Packard's Lichen Moth in New York State is unknown. There are six documented populations on Long Island. The species may be expanding its range. It is common to the south. Additional surveys are needed to determine its statewide status and distribution.

Short-term Trends

The short-term trend for Packard's lichen moth in New York State seems to be stable or possibly increasing. One population in the state that was surveyed five different years between 1995 and 2005. Approximately 100 individuals were captured over the course of these years, indicating that the population is viable and reproducing. The other five populations in the state have been surveyed only once each. Two of these populations were first documented in 2007.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend for Packard's lichen moth in New York State is unknown because the historic status and distribution is unknown.

Conservation and Management


Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development are threats to Packard's lichen moth. Also, fire suppression and allowing natural succession may eliminate suitable habitat for the species. The species is potentially vulnerable to air pollution, since air pollution kills lichens, on which larvae must feed. In addition, light from adjacent areas such as airports disturbs the moths.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Maintaining suitable habitat is the main management need. Several of the natural communities that Packard's lichen moth occupies in New York State require periodic fire or mechanical management to maintain the natural community. During prescribed burns, it is generally beneficial to leave some areas unburned to provide refugia for species. In addition, in occupied areas, it would be beneficial to restrict ATV use and minimize lighting in order to maintain dark sky conditions.

Research Needs

Research is needed to determine the habitat requirements of Packard's lichen moth and the lichens on which the larvae feed.



Habitat requirements for Packard's lichen moth are very poorly understood. In most cases, the species seems to inhabit dry to mesic forests or woodlands with lichens (NatureServe 2010). Suitable habitat must contain lichens on which larvae feed, however the specific species of lichens on which larvae feed are unknown. In New York State, the species has been captured in dwarf pine plains, maritime heathlands, pitch pine-oak forests, pitch pine-oak-heath woodlands, and maritime grasslands.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Dwarf pine plains (guide)
    A woodland community dominated by dwarf individuals of pitch pine and scrub oak that occurs on nearly level outwash sand and gravel plains in eastern Long Island. The soils are infertile, coarse textured sands that are excessively well-drained.
  • 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 forest (guide)
    A mixed forest that typically occurs on well-drained, sandy soils of glacial outwash plains or moraines; it also occurs on thin, rocky soils of ridgetops. The dominant trees are pitch pine mixed with one or more of the following oaks: scarlet oak, white oak, red oak, or black oak.
  • 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.

* probable association but not confirmed.


New York State Distribution

Packard's lichen moth is known to exist on Long Island. It may be expanding its range. It is common to the south.

Global Distribution

Packard's lichen moth is known to occur from New York south to Florida and west to Missouri and Texas (Covell 1984).

Best Places to See

  • David A. Sarnoff Pine Barrens Preserve (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Packard's lichen moth is a small, colorful moth with a wingspan of 14-19 mm. It has gray forewings with pink and yellow areas. On the anterior margin of each forewing, a thin yellow line merges with a rounded pink patch near the apex. On the inner margin of each forewing, a yellow line runs from the base of the wing to a rectangular pink patch (Covell 1984).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The adult is the best life stage for identification.


In Missouri, there are two broods each year (Covell 1984).


Larvae feed on lichens.

Best Time to See

The best time to see Packard's lichen moth is during its flight season, from May-September (Covell 1984). In New York State, adults have been captured in June and August to early September.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Packard's Lichen Moth present and reproducing in New York.

Packard's Lichen Moth Images


Packard's Lichen Moth
Cisthene packardii (Grote, 1863)

  • 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. 1960. Lepidoptera of New York and neighboring states part IV. Cornell University Experiment Station Memoir 371.

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.

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).


About This Guide

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. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Cisthene packardii. Available from: Accessed May 26, 2024.