Plants and Animals

Resapamea stipata Four-lined borer moth

Key Characteristics

The four-lined borer moth is a medium-sized moth with a wingspan ranging from 3.0 to 3.4 cm. The abdomen is a dull grey with brown specks throughout. Prothoracic and metathoracic crests are divided, with a black band extending across the front of the prothoracic crest. Forewings are characterized by a combination of white, dark grey almost purple, and brown areas that separate along the wing cells. Distinctive white lines occur along the forewing and intersect forming an “A” shape that extends the length of the forewing. The inner margin of the forewing is primarily dark gray to brown. The fringe along the outer margin is separated from the inner forewing by a dark brown line that can be complete or incomplete.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure
State Rank: SNR - Not ranked


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 1 1974
Barry 2 1997
Berrien 1 1965
Cass 1 1988
Lake 1 1966
Macomb 1 1967
Mason 1 1966
Monroe 1 1974

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.


Historically rare across its native range, this species is found east to Nova Scotia, west to North Dakota, and south to northern Ohio. The larvae of the four-lined borer moth bore through rhizomes of cordgrass (Spartina spp.) (Decker 1930), and this species is found where populations of cordgrass persist. Associated habitats include riparian areas along streams and wetlands, including wetland prairies, meadows, and prairie fens. It has also been found in wet to mesic tallgrass prairies (Metzler et al. 2005). A few documentations of this species utilizing prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) in biofuel productions systems are noted. This species has been considered a pest of prairie cordgrass in those systems (Johnson et al. 2016).

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

The primary threat to populations of this moth include habitat loss and modification. Many wetland and prairie habitats have been altered or drained for agriculture or development. Wetland alteration also can lead to invasion by non-native plant species such as glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), and reed (Phragmites australis subspecies australis). Maintaining the natural habitat of the four-lined borer moth will promote the long-term viability of populations of this species. Management activities that minimize the impact on populations of cordgrass in occupied habitats are necessary. These actions are best when mimicking natural disturbance regimes such as wildfire and periodic hydrologic fluctuations. Additional actions that can support this species include the removal of invasive plant species and/or avoiding construction of trails and paths through areas of abundant host plants. The widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides in agricultural production systems is also thought to impact the habitat of this species. The use of biofuel prairie cordgrass by this species highlights the need to monitor the use of these systems by this species and mitigate the effects of pest management on extant populations. Sites where this species is found to be extant should be protected and managed appropriately including maintaining healthy, viable populations of the host plants. Surveys to find additional populations and determine the status, abundance, and distribution of this species in the state are needed.

Active Period

Flight from first week of July to first week of October

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is by blacklighting, a technique where 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 (Hessel 1954). This species is thought to be extremely rare and can be difficult to identify in the wild. It is strongly recommended that observations of this species be verified through actual specimen vouchers or by a species expert. Blacklighting for this species should occur in wet meadows, wet-mesic prairies, or other habitats where prairie cordgrass is abundant.


Survey Period: From first week of July to first week of October

Time of Day: Night
Humidity: Humid
Cloud Cover: Overcast
Wind: No Wind


Survey References

  • Covell, C. A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North America. Peterson Field Guide Series, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA. 496 pp.
  • Hessel, S.A. 1954. A guide to collecting the plant boring larvae of the genus Papaipema (Noctuidae). Lepidopteran News 8:57-63.

Technical References

  • Decker, G.C. 1930. The biology of the four-lined borer Luperina stipata (Morr.). Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station), 10(125), 1.
  • Johnson, P.J., A. Boe., and J.M.P. López. 2016. Three insects affecting biomass and reproduction of prairie cordgrass in the Northern Great Plains. In Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science (Vol. 95).
  • Lafontaine, J.D., and B.C. Schmidt. 2010. Annotated check list of the Noctuoidea (Insecta, Lepidoptera) of North America north of Mexico. ZooKeys 40: 1-239.
  • Metzler, E.H. 2005. Contributions to the understanding of tallgrass prairie-dependent butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) and their biogeography in the United States.
  • Resapamea stipata (Morrison, 1875) in GBIF Secretariat (2019). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset accessed via on 2020-03-03.