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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the White Flower Moth (Schinia bimatris) in Canada

COSEWIC Executive Summary

White Flower Moth
Schinia bimatris

Species information

The White Flower Moth is a relatively small, white owlet moth with a restricted Canadian distribution. The owlet moths, in the family Noctuidae, have a worldwide distribution. They are an incredibly species-rich group, with over 35,000 described species, and many more undescribed: with about 50,000 species, their total diversity likely rivals that of all vertebrates, with about 50,000 species. Despite their diversity, we know relatively little about owlet moths. They are generally stout-bodied, medium-sized moths.  Almost all owlets feed on plants and include the economically important cutworm moths.

The White Flower Moth appears to be rare throughout its range and very little is known about its biology. Additional field surveys are needed in southwestern Manitoba to determine if it is restricted to the Spirit Sand Dunes in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, or if populations are more widespread in stabilized dune habitats (dunes overgrown by plants).

Distribution

The only known Canadian records of the White Flower Moth are from the Spruce Woods Provincial Park region of southwestern Manitoba. Elsewhere, this species occurs from Nebraska south and east to Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina.

Habitat

The only known extant population of the White Flower Moth in Canada inhabits active sand dunes (those not stabilized by vegetation) in the prairie-parkland region of southwestern Manitoba. In the southeastern United States, the species occurs in coastal longleaf pine woodlands.

Biology

Very few data on the biology of this species are available. Adults are nocturnal. The life cycle presumably takes one year to complete. In Manitoba, adults have been collected from early to late July. The larval and adult food plants are unknown, but the Spruce Woods population is associated with a white primrose which may prove to be a larval host.

Population sizes and trends

The population size of the White Flower Moth has not been determined, but based on the amount of remaining suitable habitat, the plausible current population is thought to be between 100 and 5,000 individuals.  There are insufficient data to determine trends in population size.

Limiting factors and threats

Sand dune stabilization through vegetation overgrowth may pose a threat.  Hotter and drier conditions in the dunes at the only known extant site in Canada may also be detrimental to the White Flower Moth.

Special significance of the species

The White Flower Moth has a relatively limited global distribution.  The only Canadian records of this moth are from the Spirit Dunes near Brandon, Manitoba. This site represents the northern periphery of this species' known range.

Existing protection or other status designations

There are no existing status designations.  The only known extant Canadian colony is within a provincial park where habitat is protected from development.

COSEWIC History

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was created in 1977 as a result of a recommendation at the Federal-Provincial Wildlife Conference held in 1976. It arose from the need for a single, official, scientifically sound, national listing of wildlife species at risk. In 1978, COSEWIC designated its first species and produced its first list of Canadian species at risk. Species designated at meetings of the full committee are added to the list.  On June 5, 2003, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was proclaimed. SARA establishes COSEWIC as an advisory body ensuring that species will continue to be assessed under a rigorous and independent scientific process.

COSEWIC Mandate

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assesses the national status of wild species, subspecies, varieties, or other designatable units that are considered to be at risk in Canada. Designations are made on native species for the following taxonomic groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, arthropods, molluscs, vascular plants, mosses, and lichens.

COSEWIC Membership

COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government wildlife agency, four federal agencies (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three non-government members and the co-chairs of the species specialist and the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge subcommittees. The Committee meets to consider status reports on candidate species. 

Definitions (november 2004)

Wildlife Species
A species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and it is either native to Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.

Extinct (X)
A wildlife species that no longer exists.

Extirpated (XT)
A wildlife species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.

Endangered (E)
A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.

Threatened (T)
A wildlife species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.

Special Concern (SC)*
A wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Not at Risk (NAR)**
A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances.

Data Deficient (DD)***
A wildlife species for which there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction.

* Formerly described as “Vulnerable” from 1990 to 1999, or “Rare” prior to 1990.
** Formerly described as “Not In Any Category”, or “No Designation Required.
*** Formerly described as “Indeterminate” from 1994 to 1999 or “ISIBD” (insufficient scientific information on which to base a designation) prior to 1994.

The Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, provides full administrative and financial support to the COSEWIC Secretariat.