Pale Green Pinion Moth Hugh D. McGuinness

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


Did you know?

Latin names for species are often very descriptive. For this species "Litho" means stone and "phane" means to resemble. The second part of the name breaks down into "viridi" meaning green and "pallens" meaning pale. Thus, the name translates to "resembles pale green stone."

State Ranking Justification

This species is very rare in New York State. It is restricted to Long Island, where a single occurrence is documented at the dwarf pine barrens.

Short-term Trends

The status and trend for this species is unknown for New York State. Only one individual has been documented on one occasion in the dwarf pine barrens of Long Island. There have been a few additional undocumented sightings of this species at other locations on Long Island.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend for this species is unknown. The 2005 collection from the dwarf pine barrens of Long Island remains the only documented occurrence in New York State.

Conservation and Management


The threats to this species on Long Island are uncertain. It has been documented in the dwarf pine barrens of Long Island where fire is necessary to maintain the habitat type. However, the Pale Green Pinion Moth occurs in other wooded habitats on Long Island, and it is thus not a barrens specialist (McGuinness 2006). Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development are the most significant threats to this species.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Areas where this species has been found need to be evaluated to avoid additional encroachment or fragmentation by development.

Research Needs

Additional inventory is needed on Long Island. The moth flies in late October to early November and in the early spring before the red maple trees flower. Baiting is the best inventory technique (McGuinness 2006). It is alleged that the habitat is coastal plain woodlands including pine barrens, cedar swamps, hardwood swamps, and mesic woods. It is often found near stands of Ilex opaca (American holly) or Ilex glabra (inkberry) (D. Schweitzer, personal communication).



In New York State, the Pale Green Pinion Moth is found only on Long Island with the only documented occurrence for this species in the dwarf pine barrens. This species, however, is more of a generalist occupying many different habitats in the coastal plain including cedar swamps, hardwood swamps, shrub swamps, woodlands, and forests (Wagner 2005).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Coastal oak-holly forest* (guide)
    A semi-deciduous to mixed deciduous-evergreen broadleaf forest that occurs on somewhat moist and moderately well drained silt and sandy loams in low areas on morainal plateaus. In New York State this forest is best developed on the narrow peninsulas of eastern Long Island. The trees are usually not stunted, and are removed from the pruning effects of severe salt spray. The dominant canopy trees are black oak, black gum, red maple, and American beech. American holly is abundant in the subcanopy and tall shrub layers. * probable association but not confirmed.
  • Coastal plain Atlantic white cedar swamp* (guide)
    A swamp that occurs on organic soils along streams and in poorly drained depressions of the coastal plain. Atlantic white cedar makes up over 50% of the canopy cover. In mixed stands in New York, red maple is the codominant tree. * probable association but not confirmed.
  • 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.
  • Shrub swamp* (guide)
    An inland wetland dominated by tall shrubs that occurs along the shore of a lake or river, in a wet depression or valley not associated with lakes, or as a transition zone between a marsh, fen, or bog and a swamp or upland community. Shrub swamps are very common and quite variable. * probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Burgess's Apamea (Apamea burgessi) (guide)
  • Herodias Underwing (Catocala herodias)
  • Jair Underwing (Catocala jair)
  • Melsheimer's Sack Bearer (Cicinnus melsheimeri) (guide)
  • Packard's Lichen Moth (Cisthene packardii) (guide)
  • Projecta Gray (Cleora projecta) (guide)
  • Pine Tussock Moth (Dasychira pinicola) (guide)
  • A Geometrid Moth (Euchlaena madusaria) (guide)
  • Fringed Dart (Eucoptocnemis fimbriaris) (guide)
  • Violet Dart (Euxoa violaris) (guide)
  • Coastal Barrens Buckmoth (Hemileuca maia ssp. 5) (guide)
  • Yellow-spotted Graylet (Hyperstrotia flaviguttata) (guide)
  • Pin-striped Slug Moth (Monoleuca semifascia) (guide)
  • Gray Woodgrain (Morrisonia mucens) (guide)
  • Pink Sallow (Psectraglaea carnosa) (guide)
  • Spinose Flower Moth (Schinia spinosae) (guide)
  • Barrens Itame (Speranza exonerata) (guide)
  • Gordian Sphinx (Sphinx gordius) (guide)
  • Toothed Apharetra (Sympistis dentata) (guide)
  • Orange Holomelina (Virbia aurantiaca) (guide)
  • Pine Barrens Zale (Zale lunifera) (guide)


New York State Distribution

This species has only been reported from Long Island.

Global Distribution

This species occurs within 20 miles of coast in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and on Long Island, New York, then widely from southern New Jersey through much of Georgia and west to east Texas. It is unclear how far inland this species occurs, but it seems to occur regularly in northern Georgia and the Raleigh, North Carolina, area but not into the Appalachian region. It is probably fairly general on the coastal plain and south of Virginia also on the piedmont.

Best Places to See

  • Dwarf Pine Plains (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

This a very distinctive species. The narrow forewings are light greenish gray with dark green, double, wavy lines. The orbicular spot has fine black outlines. The reniform spot is also outlined with a black line. It is broad and slightly angular. The hind wing is grayish brown.

Best Time to See

The adult moths are active in the fall.

  • Present
  • Reproducing
  • Larvae present and active
  • Pupae or prepupae present

The time of year you would expect to find Pale Green Pinion Moth present, reproducing, larvae present and active, and pupae or prepupae present in New York.

Pale Green Pinion Moth Images


Pale Green Pinion Moth
Lithophane viridipallens Grote, 1877

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

Comments on the Classification

This is a very distinctive species in the Querquera-Baileyi group.

Additional Resources


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

Jordan, M. J., W. A. Patterson III, A. G. Windisch. 2003. Conceptual ecological models for the Long Island pitch pine barrens: implications for managing rare plant communities. Forest Ecology and Management 185, 151-168.

Little, S. 1979. Fire and plant succession in the New Jersey pine barrens. pp. 297-313 in Forman, R.T.T. (ed.) Pine Barrens: Ecosystem and Landscape. Academic Press, Inc. Orlando, FL.

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

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2022. 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).

Schweitzer, Dale F. Terrestrial Invertebrate Zoologist (retired), NatureServe. Port Norris, NJ.

Wagner, D.L. 2005. Caterpillars of eastern North America. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey. 512 pp.


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Lauren Lyons-Swift

Information for this guide was last updated on: December 17, 2011

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2022. Online Conservation Guide for Lithophane viridipallens. Available from: Accessed May 16, 2022.

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