Richard's Fungus Moth

Metalectra richardsi Brower, 1941

Richard's Fungus Moth
Jim Vargo

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
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?

Richard's fungus moth is named after Dr. A.G. Richards, Jr., who first collected the species in 1929 in Georgia (Brower 1941).

State Ranking Justification

There is only one documented population of Richard's fungus moth in New York State, but the species could be more widespread. Throughout its range, the species seems to be more common than previously thought (NatureServe 2010). Its status and distribution in New York State is not well known.

Short-term Trends

The short-term trend for Richard's fungus moth in New York State is unknown. The one documented population in the state was surveyed only in 1995. However, the species is thought to be stable in most places. It appears to be increasing in southern New Jersey (NatureServe 2010).

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend for Richard's fungus moth in New York State is unknown. It may be increasing as a result of oak-kill by spongy moths, since the larvae of Richard's fungus moth feed on fungi, probably on dead trees (NatureServe 2010).

Conservation and Management


The threats to Richard's fungus moth are uncertain. Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development are probably the greatest threats to the species. Otherwise, there are no apparent threats (NatureServe 2010).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Maintaining suitable habitat, forests, is the main management need.



Richard's fungus moth seems to occur mostly in rather ordinary dry-mesic to swampy hardwood forests. It may be more common in areas with a lot of dead oaks (NatureServe 2010). In New York State, it is known to occur in a pitch pine-oak forest.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • 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.


New York State Distribution

Richard's fungus moth is known to occur on Long Island.

Global Distribution

Richard's fungus moth is known to occur from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, to South Carolina and perhaps Florida, west to Kentucky (Covell 1984).

Best Places to See

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

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Richard's fungus moth is a small moth with a wingspan of 15-17 mm. It has yellowish wings that are patterned with light and darker brown shading. The hind wings are much paler than the forewings (Covell 1984). For a more detailed description, see Brower (1941). Larvae (caterpillars) of fungus moths (Metalectra species) lack prolegs on abdominal segments A3 and A4; have rough skin; have a white, cream, or tan background; and are often found on bracket fungi and other fungi (Wagner et al. 2008).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The adult is the best life stage for identification.


In southern New Jersey, there are two broods each year. Presumably pupae hibernate (NatureServe 2010).


Larvae of fungus moths (Metalectra species) are believed to feed on fungi, such as bracket fungi, on trees (NatureServe 2010). They seem to prefer bracket fungi and other fungi with long-lasting fruiting bodies (Wagner et al. 2008).

Best Time to See

The best time to see Richard's fungus moth is during its flight season, from late May-August (Covell 1984). In New York State, adults have been captured in mid-late July. Similarly, from 1931-1941 in Massachusetts, 13 specimens were collected in July (Brower 1941).

  • Present
  • Reproducing

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

Richard's Fungus Moth Images


Richard's Fungus Moth
Metalectra richardsi Brower, 1941

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

Additional Resources


Brower, A.E. 1941. A new species of Metalectra from eastern North America (Lepidoptera: Phalaenidae). Transactions of the American Entomological Society (1890-) 67(4):271-274.

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.

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. 2023. 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).

Rings, R. W., E. H. Metzler, F. J. Arnold, and D. H. Harris. 1992. The Owlet Moths of Ohio (Order Lepidoptera, family Noctuidae). Ohio Biol. Surv. Bull. New Series, Vol. 9, no. 2, vi. + 219 pp., 16 color plates.

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 7, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Metalectra richardsi. Available from: Accessed December 5, 2023.