Pink Star Moth

Derrima stellata Walker, [1858]

Derrima stellata (Pink Star Moth)
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?

Pink star moths are known to have two broods each year, with a first brood in the spring (April/May) and another in summer (July/August) (Covell 1984).

State Ranking Justification

Pink star moth has been found at one location in New York on Long Island. Forbes (1954) and Covell (1984) consider this species rare in the northern part of its range.

Short-term Trends

The short-term trends are unknown.

Long-term Trends

The long term trends are unknown except that Covell (1984) stated that this species is rare in the northern portion of its range.

Conservation and Management


This species is attracted to artificial lighting. 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).

Potential threats include insecticide use. The use of insecticides and biocontrols can also eliminate or greatly impact many non-target species populations.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Minimizing lighting to maintain dark sky conditions would also 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 moth. However, sensitivity to Btk varies among native species and 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 larval foodplants.



The precise habitat requirements in New York are unknown. This species was captured between either maritime dunes and maritime heathland or a sea level fen and maritime heathland.

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 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.
  • Sea level fen* (guide)
    A wetland that occurs at the upper edge of salt marshes but is fed primarily by acidic groundwater seeping out along the upland edge. This fresh water sometimes mixes with salt or brackish water during unusually high tides. There is a high abundance of sedges that decompose slowly and create a deep substrate of peat. This peat is underlain by deep sand or gravel. These fens usually have a high diversity of herbs but may also have scattered trees and shrubs.

* probable association but not confirmed.


New York State Distribution

This species has been found in Suffolk County on Long Island.

Global Distribution

Pink star moths can be found from southern Maine south to Florida and west to Missouri and Texas (Covell 1984).

Best Places to See

  • Napeague State Park (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

The pink star moth has a wingspan of 2.4 to 3 cm. Forewings are dull yellow with a pink border along the costa and outer margin, making this moth more easily identified than some other species. The postmedial line, orbicular spot, and reniform spots are white. The hingwings are more variable by location. In general, the hingwings are dull yellow with a pink outer border. However, in northern parts of its range, the hingwings are pale brown with a pink outer border (Covell 1984).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification



According to Covell (1984), the foodplant is unknown.

Best Time to See

Covell (1984) states that there are two broods each year: April to May and July to August. Specific information about the best times to find this species is not available for New York populations at this time.

  • Present
  • Active

The time of year you would expect to find Pink Star Moth present and active in New York.

Pink Star Moth Images


Pink Star Moth
Derrima stellata Walker, [1858]

  • 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.

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

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.


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: June 28, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Derrima stellata. Available from: Accessed June 23, 2024.