Plants and Animals

Xestia imperita Imperitive xestia

Key Characteristics

A noctuid moth with a wingspan of approximately 3.5 cm, this species is characterized by a mottled blue-gray forewing, a pale orbicular spot, a large reniform spot, and a pale gray hindwing.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: SNR - Not ranked


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Keweenaw 1 1957

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.


Throughout its range in Canada and the upper northern United States it lives in boreal spruce-fir forests with populations in the Rocky Mountains occurring in subalpine forests. It is likely that Isle Royale and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are the southern end of this species’ breeding range. Larvae are known to feed on species of huckleberries (Vaccinium sp.) in the Ericaceae (LaFontaine 1998).

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

Studies to determine the habitat requirements of this species are needed to inform management recommendations.

Lack of scientific knowledge about its life history is an obvious threat. Until more is known about the ecology of this moth, specific management recommendations cannot be provided at this time. Boreal species such as this moth are among those most likely to be negatively impacted by climate change. Surveys and monitoring to assess the status and extent of this species’ distribution in Michigan are needed. Research to obtain additional information on the species’ life history and ecology is necessary to assess the status of this moth in Michigan. It is likely that habitat destruction and the use of herbicides and pesticides negatively impact this species.

Active Period

Flight from second week of July to fourth week of August

Survey Methods

Surveys are needed in Michigan to determine the extent of its range. Adults are nocturnal and will come to light. 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. This species may be difficult to identify in the field. It is strongly recommended that observations of this species be verified through actual specimen vouchers or verification by a species expert.


Survey Period: From first week of July to fourth week of August

Time of Day: Night
Humidity: Humid
Cloud Cover: Overcast
Air Temperature: Above 60 degrees
Wind: No Wind
Survey Method Comment: Here we present ideal conditions, however surveys can be conducted during other conditions as well.


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.
  • 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

  • Lafontaine, J. D., 1998. Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 27.3: p. 143