Plants and Animals

Andropolia contacta Canadian giant moth

Key Characteristics

This moth has a wingspan of approximately 4.4 cm. Patterns of black and white throughout wings lead to an overall grey appearance. Forewing is covered with black speckling, with subterminal black lines that zigzag across the wings. The terminal line of the wing contains black spots  that extend into the fringe and can sometimes resemble triangles. Discal spots approximately halfway between the forewing base and wing tip are dull grey with a black border.

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
Houghton 1 2015

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 Canadian Giant Moth is known to occur in boreal forests. Identified host plants include alders (Alnus spp.), birch (Betula spp.), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), and willows (Salix spp.) (Poole, 1989). Larvae utilize the leaves of host plants. Collections throughout Canada tend to be on steep north or south facing slopes with host plants nearby (LaFontaine and Wood, 1997).

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 life history of this species. However, management actions that maintain adequate host plant resources are required for species persistence. Avoid active cutting of host plants during larval use during late summer, when larvae are most likely active.

Active Period

Active from first week of July to second week of September

Survey Methods

The adults are nocturnal and 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. In addition, diurnal surveys can be conducted by searching for the larvae and feeding activity on host plants in late July or early August. Reports of this species must be documented with a voucher specimen or a good photograph and verification by a species expert.


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

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


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

  • Andropolia contacta Walker, 1856 in GBIF Secretariat (2019). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset accessed via on 2020-03-30.
  • Lafontaine, J.D., and D.M. Wood. 1997. Butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of the Yukon. Insects of the Yukon. Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), Ottawa, ON, pp. 723-785.
  • Poole, R. W. 1989. Lepidopterorum Catalogus (new series), fascicle 118, Noctuidae. EJ Brill, Leiden, 1314.
  • Powell, J.A., and P.A. Opler. 2009. Moths of Western North America, Pl. 54.31f; p. 300.