The Pink Streak Jim Vargo

The Pink Streak
Jim Vargo

Class
Insecta (Insects)
Family
Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
SU
Unrankable - Currently unrankable due to lack of information or due to substantially conflicting information about status or trends.
Global Conservation Status Rank
G3G4
Vulnerable globally, or Apparently Secure - At moderate risk of extinction, with relatively few populations or locations in the world, few individuals, and/or restricted range; or uncommon but not rare globally; may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors. More information is needed to assign either G3 or G4.

Summary

Did you know?

The pink streak, like many other noctuids, is nocturnal during its adult stage and later larval stages (NatureServe 2010).

State Ranking Justification

Forbes (1954) reports the pink streak to be "generally rare." Within New York State, it is known to occur on Long Island, a nearby offshore island, and the Albany Pine Bush. Three populations are documented. Although few populations have been documented to date, the species could be more widespread. It's known to feed on grasses, but other foodplants are possible (Wagner et al. 2008). Additional surveys are needed to better understand its status and distribution in the state.

Short-term Trends

The short-term trend for the pink streak in New York State indicates the population is stable. At one of the two Long Island documented populations in the state, 15 moths were captured over the course of two survey years between 1995 and 2000, indicating that the population is viable and reproducing. The species was found in the Albany Pine Bush in 2016.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend for the pink streak in New York State is unknown, but it is thought to be stable (NatureServe 2010). Forbes (1954) reports the species to be "generally rare."

Conservation and Management

Threats

Threats to the pink streak in New York State are uncertain. Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development is a threat. Fire suppression and allowing natural succession may eliminate suitable habitat for the species. However, fire is not necessary to maintain habitat in much of the species' range. Summer fires pose a greater threat to the species than fires in the fall, winter, or early spring, since at these times of the year the species is in the pupal stage several centimeters underground (NatureServe 2010).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Maintaining habitat is the main management need. Fire is not necessary to maintain habitat in much of the pink streak's range (e.g., New Jersey, North Carolina, and Indiana), but it might be necessary in some prairie situations. If prescribed fire is used to maintain habitat, typical prescribed burns at unnatural seasons (i.e., fall, winter, and early spring) are probably best. In New Jersey and places northward in the species' range, larvae enter the soil to pupate by mid to late September and go well under ground. With more naturally timed (i.e., summer) fires, mortality (either by direct heat or more likely from loss of food supply) could be quite high to immatures during, and for perhaps six weeks after, the adult flight period (i.e., late July through most of September, in New Jersey and Indiana). Any larvae present during late summer fires or cuts would probably perish. Also, any fire or cutting that prevents normal flowering and seed set of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) would force females to leave the site to look for other oviposition sites, which they probably would never find in highly fragmented prairie regions. Thus a population could be wiped out even if there were no direct mortality. As far as is known based on approximately 55 eclosions (D. Schweitzer, unpublished data), all pupae emerge after one winter. There is no holdover, so the population must reproduce every summer (NatureServe 2010).

Research Needs

Research is needed to learn the pink streak's foodplant in various parts of its range.

Habitat

Habitat

In New York State, the species has been found in a maritime grassland and in pine barrens habitats.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • 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.
  • Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens (guide)
    A shrub-savanna community that occurs on well-drained, sandy soils that have developed on sand dunes, glacial till, and outwash plains.

Range

New York State Distribution

In New York State, the pink streak is known from Long Island and the Albany Pine Bush.

Global Distribution

The pink streak range extends roughly from Minnesota to Massachusetts to Florida and Arizona (Wagner et al. 2008). It has a very spotty distribution within the overall range, and it is not present in many states in between. It is probably found mainly in the coastal plain and in prairies (NatureServe 2010).

Best Places to See

  • Montauk County Park (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

The pink streak is a medium-sized, straw-colored noctuid moth with prominent pink streaks on the forewings. Often, it has a dark olive thorax. The wingspan is approximately 32-37 mm. See the figure in Covell (1984). The larva is usually brown, but sometimes it is green. It is striped lengthwise much as in Leucania species, several of which are illustrated by Godfrey (1972) (NatureServe 2010).

Characters Most Useful for Identification

The combination of pink streaks on the forewings and appropriate wingspan are diagnostic for adults of the species (NatureServe 2010).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The adult is the best life stage for identification. Larvae should be reared out for positive identification (NatureServe 2010).

Behavior

The pink streak spends almost 11 months of the year as a pupa several centimeter underground. Therefore it will usually not be vulnerable to fires except during the brief adult and larval periods in late summer. Adults lay eggs in groups inside flowering stems of grasses (NatureServe 2010), particularly switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in New Jersey (Wagner et al. 2008).

Diet

Adults may or may not feed. They do not come to sugar baits and have not been seen on flowers. Larvae feed on grasses. In New Jersey, they feed especially on switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) (Wagner et al. 2008). Apparently larvae feed inside flowering stems for the first instar. It is believed that intermediate instar larvae eat foliage as well as flowers and seeds. The last instar feeds mainly on the developing seeds (NatureServe 2010).

Best Time to See

The best time to see the pink streak is during its flight season. In New York State, it has been captured flying from early July until early August.

  • Present
  • Reproducing
  • Larvae present and active
  • Eggs present outside adult

The time of year you would expect to find The Pink Streak present, reproducing, larvae present and active, and eggs present outside adult in New York.

The Pink Streak Images

Taxonomy

The Pink Streak
Dargida rubripennis (Grote and Robinson, 1870)

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

Comments on the Classification

Forbes (1954) refers to the species as "Leucania rubripennis."

Additional Resources

References

Covell, C.V., Jr. 1984. A field guide to the moths of eastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, MA. 496 pp.

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

Godfrey, George L., 1972. A review and reclassification of larvae of the subfamily Hadeninae (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae) of America North of Mexico. Tech. bull. no. 1450 Agric. Research Service, USDA, Washington DC. 265.

Holland, W. J. 1903. The moth book. A guide to the moths of North America. Doubleday, Page & company, New York. 479 pp.

Kimball, C. P. 1965. The Lepidoptera of Florida. Arthropods of Florida and Neighboring Land Areas, Vol. 1. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Gainesville, Florida. 363 pp. and 26 plates.

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. 2019. 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

Opler, Paul A., Kelly Lotts, and Thomas Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Bozeman, MT: Big Sky Institute. <http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/> (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)

Links

About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Andrea Chaloux and Hollie Shaw

Information for this guide was last updated on: June 28, 2018

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Dargida rubripennis. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/the-pink-streak/. Accessed September 23, 2019.

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