Spinose Flower Moth

Schinia spinosae (Guenée, 1852)

Spinose Flower 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
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?

Many species in this genus are brightly-colored, providing good camouflage against the flowers on which they feed and lay eggs. A good number of the darker brown species in this genus have large pale patches that break up the moth's outline and resemble dappled areas of sunlight/shade.

Conservation and Management

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Areas where this species has been found need to be evaluated to avoid additional encroachment or fragmentation by development. In addition, minimizing lighting to maintain dark sky conditions would be beneficial.



The spinose flower moth is found in barren type habitats, but it is not considered a barrens species, since it is also found in other habitats (McGuinness 2006). It is often found in coastal areas with sandy substrates and is associated with grasslands and dunes.

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 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-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.

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)
  • Pale Green Pinion Moth (Lithophane viridipallens) (guide)
  • Pin-striped Slug Moth (Monoleuca semifascia) (guide)
  • Gray Woodgrain (Morrisonia mucens) (guide)
  • Pink Sallow (Psectraglaea carnosa) (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)


Global Distribution

Global distribution data for the spinose flower moth is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed. However, the moth has been reported from Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island (Wagner et al. 2008, NatureServe 2010). Most colonies are along the coast (Wagner et al. 2008).

Best Places to See

  • Dwarf Pine Barrens (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

The spinose flower moth is various shades of brown with large pale patches. The wingspan is approximately 23-24 mm.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The adult stage is the best life stage for identification.


Eggs of moths in this genus develop quickly, and the larval stage is usually three to four weeks or less. Pupation occurs under the ground (Wagner et al. 2008).


Most moths in this genus have a specialized diet. For many Flower Moths, the host plant on which moths lay eggs and larvae feed is the only plant on which moths nectar. The food source of the spinose flower moth is not known, however, it is known to use plants in the genus Polygonella as host plants. In particular, across much of its northern range, it seems to use coastal jointweed (Polygonella articulata) as a host plant (Wagner et al. 2008).

Best Time to See

The best time to see spinose flower moths is during their flight season. In New York, the moths have been documented to fly in early-mid September.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Spinose Flower Moth present and reproducing in New York.

Spinose Flower Moth Images


Spinose Flower Moth
Schinia spinosae (Guenée, 1852)

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

Comments on the Classification

Forbes (1954) called this species Eupanychis spinosae.

Additional Resources


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

Hardwick, D. F. 1996. A monograph of the New World Heliothentinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa Canada. 281 pp., 24 color plates.

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

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. 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. http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/MainMenu.shtml

Schweitzer, Dale F. 1998. Rare, potentially rare, and historic macrolepidoptera for Long Island, New York: A suggested inventory list.

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: March 7, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Schinia spinosae. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/spinose-flower-moth/. Accessed May 26, 2024.