Plants and Animals

Xestia perquiritata Boomerang dart moth

species photo
James Adams

Key Characteristics

This boreal moth has a wingspan of 3.8 to 4.5 cm. The forewings are light to dark gray and the hindwings are a paler gray with a dark discal spot, a wavy median line, and a broken dark marginal line. The boomerang dart moth is named for its boomerang-shaped reniform spots. It is most easily recognized by the contrasting black and white pattern.

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.


A boreal species ranging across North America from Newfoundland, Labrador, and New England west to the Yukon, British Columbia, and Washington (Pogue 2006). Larvae feed on a variety of conifers, including tamarack (Larix larcina), spruce (Picea spp.) and true firs (Abies spp.; Prentice 1962, Duncan 2006). Larvae have been reared on white spruce (Picea glauca), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), and subalpine fir (A. lasiocarpa; Lafontaine 1998, Pogue 2006).

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

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. This is a boreal moth species, and this group is among those most likely to be negatively impacted by climate change. Exotic homopteran insects killing firs and hemlocks may impact this species’ ability to persist (Schweitzer et al. 2011). Surveys and monitoring to assess the status and extent of this species’ distribution in Michigan are needed. It is likely that habitat destruction and the use of herbicides and pesticides negatively impact this species.

Active Period

Flight from fourth week of June to fourth week of August

Survey Methods

Surveys for this species should focus on coniferous woodlands and wetlands in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 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. Reports of adults or larvae of this species must be documented with a voucher specimen or a good photograph and verification by a species expert. Blacklighting should be done in areas with abundant host plants.


Survey Period: From fourth week of June 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

  • Duncan, R.W. 2006. Conifer Defoliators of British Columbia. 359pp.
  • Pogue, M.G. The Noctuinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, U.S.A. (Zootaxa 1215) 95pp. 26 May 2006. Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Prentice, R.M. 1962. Forest Lepidoptera of Canada. Volume 2. 281pp.
  • Schweitzer, D. F., M.C. Minno, and D.L. Wagner. 2011. Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States. U.S. Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, FHTET-2011-01. USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, West Virginia. 517pp.