Plants and Animals

Merolonche dolli Doll's merolonche

Key Characteristics

A medium-sized moth with an average wingspan of 1.5 inches (3.7 cm). The forewings are white with black shades and markings, particularly around the base of the forewing and thorax, and along the outer margin. The lines on the forewings are heavily but irregularly defined with black. The hindwings are white with dark gray or brownish gray veins and small spot near the center of the hind wing. The larvae are spiny, black in color with an orange-red band along each side.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G3G4 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from vulnerable to apparently secure
State Rank: S2S3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Arenac 2 1968
Newaygo 1 1968
Oceana 1 1968
Otsego 3 1994
Roscommon 1 1969

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.


The Doll's merolonche is found in areas with acidic soil and typically found in pine barrens, oak-pine barrens, bogs and jack pine/scrub oak habitat in Michigan. The species also is associated with savanna, lowland, mesic and dry hardwood and coniferous forest, and fen habitats. Larvae of this species in Michigan apparently feed and develop on blueberry (Vaccinium sp.), while larvae in other parts of its range feed on cranberry. It is possible that the larvae also utilize other members of the Ericaceae family.

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in: BogDry northern forestDry-mesic northern forestMesic northern forestNorthern fenOak-pine barrensPine barrensPoor conifer swampRich conifer swamp.

Natural Community Types

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.

Management Recommendations

Little is known about the status, distribution, life history and ecology of this species. Threats to this species may include altered fire regimes, altered hydrologic regimes, incompatible natural resource management, industrial/residential/recreational development, lack of scientific knowledge, forestry practices, use of pesticides and herbicides and wetland modifications. This species may be vulnerable to spongy moth spraying and to activities that disturb the site or larval host plant. Management recommendations for this species include conducting surveys and research to determine this species' status and distribution, investigate its life history and ecology and assess conservation threats. Sites at which this species has been documented should be protected. The habitat at known sites should be maintained, especially maintaining adequate populations of the species' hostplants, blueberries and potentially other members of the Ericaceae family.

Active Period

Flight from third week of April to third week of May

Survey Methods

Doll's merolonche has one generation per year and overwinters as a pupa. Larvae are present from late May through July and possibly into August. In Michigan, adults fly from mid-April to mid-May. 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. Moths can be collected directly from 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 and verification by a species expert.


Survey Period: From third week of April to third week of May

Time of Day: Evening
Humidity: Humid
Cloud Cover: Overcast
Air Temperature: Warm
Wind: No Wind
Survey Method Comment: Ideal survey conditions but surveys can be conducted during other conditions as well.

Time of Day: Night
Humidity: Humid
Cloud Cover: Overcast
Air Temperature: Warm
Wind: No Wind
Survey Method Comment: Ideal survey conditions but surveys can be conducted during other conditions as well.


Survey References

  • Covell, Charles. A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North America. Peterson Field Guide Series, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA. 496 pp.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Chapman, K.A., M.A. White, M.R. Huffman, and D. Faber-Langendoen. 1995. Ecology and stewardship guidelines for oak-barrens landscapes in the upper Midwest. Pp. 1-29 in F. Stearns and K. Holland, eds. Proc.of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conference, 1993. U.S. EPA, Internet Pubs. Available:
  • Cohen, J.G. 2000. Natural community abstract for oak-pine barrens. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 6 pp.
  • Cohen, J.G. 2002. Natural community abstract for dry northern forest. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 14 pp.
  • Comer, P.J. 1996. Natural community abstract for pine barrens. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3 pp.
  • Forbes, W.T.M. 1954. Lepidoptera of New York and Neighboring States, Noctuidae, Part III. Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, NY. 433 pp.
  • Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 1995. Forest stewardship training materials for oak-pine barrens ecosystem. Unpublished manuscript. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI.
  • Schweitzer, D.F. 1985. Doll's Merolonche Merolonche dolli Barnes and McDunnough In: Genoways, H.H. and F.J. Brenner, eds. 1985. Species of Special Concern in Pennsylvania. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Special Publication No. 11, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Stehr, F. W. 1997. Michigan Lepidoptera Survey Sites and Seasonal Occurrence of Michigan's Listed Species Annual Report 1997. 30 pp.+ MI Lepidoptera Survey Data Collection Form