Plants and Animals

Papaipema beeriana Blazing star borer

species photo
David Cuthrell
species photo
species photo

Key Characteristics

This moth has a wing-span of 1.2-1.5 inches (3.1-3.6 cm). It has two color forms, both spotted and unspotted. The unspotted form has forewings which are dull brownish, frosted with whitish scale-bases, and with scattered white scales; markings practically absent or very faint. The hind wings are a paler and more uniform gray. The spotted form, lacinariae Bird, has forewings similar to the unspotted form with the exception of white spots.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G3? - Vulnerable (inexact)
State Rank: S2 - Imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 2 2023
Barry 1 2022
Berrien 1 1989
Calhoun 1 1968
Cass 2 2000
Huron 1 2023
Jackson 5 2023
Livingston 5 2023
Monroe 1 2022
Newaygo 1 2013
Oakland 3 2022
Oscoda 1 2021
Otsego 3 2011
St. Clair 6 2023
Tuscola 4 2023
Van Buren 1 2023
Washtenaw 2 2023
Wayne 4 2023

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 blazing star borer occurs with its larval host plant, blazing star or snakeroot (Liatris spp.) The species has been recorded from a variety of plant communities crossing gradients from wet to dry including lakeplain prairies, prairie fens, and sand prairie or barrens. At known sites associated prairie plants typically include big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), common mountain mint (Pycanthemum virginianum), tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris), Ohio goldenrod (Solidago ohioensis), Culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum), and switch grass (Panicum virgatum).

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

Almost all major workers on the genus have commented on the fire sensitivity of Papaipema eggs. Use of fire to control the pest species P. nebris. Land managers should always assume high mortality of Papaipema eggs in fall, winter, or spring burn units. To protect Papaipema populations retaining an adequate amount of the foodplant and to divide habitat into smaller burn units is recommended. No Papaipema site should ever be entirely burned in a single year. Foodplants spread over a large area or in several discrete patches reduce the risk from predators and parasitoids as compared to a comparable number of plants in a single dense patch. Most, if not all, of these parasitoids are native species and in most cases they do not need to be controlled. All known sites of beeriana on managed lands should be monitored periodically.

Active Period

Flight from fourth week of July to third 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. You also can search for the larvae of many species of Papaipema by searching for signs of feeding activity in late July or early August. Reports of adults or lavae of this species must be documented with a voucher specimen or a good photograph and verification by a species expert.


Survey Period: From fourth week of July to third week of October

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 under 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 under other conditions as well.

Search for larval feeding

Survey Period: From fourth week of July to third week of October

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Hessel, S.A. 1954. A guide to collecting the plant boring larvae of the genus Papaipema (Noctuidae). Lepidopteran News 8:57-63.
  • 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

  • Bird, H. 1923. New life histories, species and varieties in Papaipema (Lepidoptera) No. 22. Canadian Entomology 55:106-07.
  • Cuthrell, D.L. 1999. Special Animal Abstract for Papaipema beeriana (Blazing star borer). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3pp.

More Information