Papaipema speciosissima
Regal fern borer

Key Characteristics

The Regal fern borer moth has an average wingspan of 1.8-2.0 inches (4.5 - 5.0 cm). The forewings (i.e., upper wings) are bright orange, with some brown and violet shading. It also has three white or brown, narrow vertical bars or spots; the two inner spots or bars are almost fused. The hind wings (i.e., lower wings) are orangish with slightly darker shading with a visible, light median line in the center of the hind wing.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: SC
  • State Rank: S2S3
  • Global Rank: G4

Occurrences

County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan11995
Barry22013
Cass31997
Clinton11997
Ingham21972
Jackson11988
Lenawee11982
Livingston11951
St. Clair12015
Distribution map for Papaipema speciosissima

Updated 1/31/2017. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

The Regal fern borer moth typically inhabits swamp forests but also is associated with prairie, idle/old field, lowland shrub, lowland hardwood, fen and river/stream/riparian/floodplain habitats. The larval hosts are regal and cinnamon fern (Osmundia sp.). The larvae bore into the roots of their host plant.

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in Southern wet meadow, Wet prairie, Wet-mesic sand prairie, Prairie fen, Rich tamarack swamp, Southern hardwood swamp, Floodplain forest, Southern shrub-carr, Inundated shrub swamp

Natural Community Types

Methodology

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Feel free to send questions and comments to Brad Slaughter at slaugh14@msu.edu.

Management

The Regal fern borer moth is considered rare and may be imperiled in Michigan. Threats to this species include habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation due to conversion to agricultural lands; industrial, residential and/or recreational development; encroachment by invasive plants; use of pesticides and herbicides; wetland modifications; altered fire regimes; altered hydrologic regimes; and lack of scientific knowledge. Surveys are needed to determine this species' status, abundance and distribution in the state. Research to obtain more information on this species' life history and ecology and to assess threats to this species also is warranted. The sites at which this species has been documented should be protected and maintained. Adequate and suitable habitat at these sites need to be maintained including sufficient densities of the species' host plants. Maintenance and long-term preservation of the habitats with which this species is associated could include maintaining or restoring hydrologic regimes, controlling invasive species, and using management tools such as tree girdling and prescribed fire in some systems to restore natural disturbance regimes and ecological processes that help maintain these systems.

Active Period

Flight from first week of September to fourth week of October

Survey Methods

Larvae are present from May to July, boring into the roots of their host plants, regal and cinnamon fern (Osmundia sp.). In Michigan, adults have been documented from late July through October although the typical adult flight period for this species is September and October. The best way to survey for this species is by blacklighting at night during the adult flight period, a technique whereby a sheet is stretched across two trees or poles and an ultraviolet light is used to attract moths to the sheet. Insects come to light usually in largest numbers on still, dark, cloudy nights when both temperature and humidity are high. Reports of this species should be documented with a voucher specimen or a good photograph and verification by a species expert.

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Mar 30, 2017]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract

References

Survey References

Technical References