Scientific Name: Copablepharon fuscum
Other/Previous Names: Sand Verbena Moth
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2013
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This moth and its host plant are habitat specialists dependent on coastal sand ecosystems, a rare and declining habitat along the West Coast of British Columbia. The species occurs at five small and isolated sites within a habitat that is highly threatened by erosion from increased winter storms and sea level rise, dune stabilization by invading vegetation, industrial and recreational development, recreational use, and the potential aerial application of pesticide to control the Gypsy Moth. The host plant and therefore the moth are facing continuing declines due to on-going erosion and degradation of coastal dunes.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in November 2003. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-07-14
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
Image of Sand-verbena Moth
The Sand-verbena Moth is an average-sized nocturnal moth. It ranges in colour from dark to golden brown and has a wingspan of 3.5 to 4.0 cm. The forewings are 17 to 19 mm in length; they are slightly darker than the thorax and have distinctive black and light yellow lines. They are white near the thorax with a brown-grey border towards the bottom. The hindwings are a dark greyish brown, becoming very pale grey or white near the body. Wing pigmentation can present slight variations from one individual to the next and from one region to the next. Males and females are similar in colour, size, and wing patterning. Young caterpillars are green with pale stripes and turn brown as they age. Adults emerge from a dark-brown pupa that measures approximately 2 cm in length and is protected by a flaky layer of fine sand. No other species in British Columbia resembles the Sand-verbena Moth. Consequently, the adult can be reliably identified through observation of such characteristics as forewing patterning.
Distribution and Population
The Sand-verbena Moth can be found from the sandy coasts of southwestern British Columbia in the north, and southward to Puget Sound in Washington State in the United States. This moth has been observed in three Canadian sites, all of which are located in southwestern British Columbia. Two populations were discovered on the northern edge of the Strait of Georgia in the Comox region. The third population is in the southern part of the Georgia Strait near Sidney. Based on the distribution of the host plant (Yellow Sand Verbena), it has been determined that other populations could be present along this same stretch of the Strait of Georgia. However, no Sand-verbena Moths have been captured or observed in the few sites that have been sampled so far. The number of individuals that make up the three Canadian populations is not known. Changes in the distribution and abundance of their host plant (Yellow Sand Verbena) could provide valuable information on population trends for this species. Globally, population numbers for this nocturnal moth species are extremely low. Each of the eight sites where the Sand-verbena Moth has been observed appears to be home to a distinct population.
The Sand-verbena Moth prefers sandy, arid environments or dunes. This nocturnal moth depends very heavily on its host plant, the Yellow Sand Verbena. Consequently, both species have similar habitat requirements. This plant can be found in dunes, and other open and sandy coastal environments. Although this plant is occasionally found in areas dominated by grasses, Yellow Sand Verbena only flowers and grows vigorously in environments where it is the dominant species. This flowering plant is sensitive to competition from other plants, including mosses. Although many aspects of the Sand-verbena Moth's habitat requirements are not known, the moth is known to prefer large, dense, flowering colonies of its host plant, which provide it with sufficient resources. This moth has never been observed in a coastal site without a Yellow Sand Verbena colony and has never been captured more than 25 m away from a Yellow Sand Verbena plant. In the three Canadian sites with Sand-verbena Moth colonies, the coverage of Yellow Sand Verbena is estimated to be 450 m², 620 m² and 680 m².
These nocturnal moths fly at dusk and in the early evening from mid-May to early July. Adults appear to live 5 to 14 days. They feed on the nectar of the Yellow Sand Verbena, which they drink with their long proboscis. Very little is known about the reproduction of the Sand-verbena Moth. However, the mating period is known to peak in mid-June, after which the females lay their eggs, alone or in clusters, on the leaves and flowers of the Yellow Sand Verbena. Eggs hatch approximately two weeks after laying and young caterpillars immediately begin to feed on the leaves of the plant. They continue to feed at night through July and August. The caterpillars winter in a dormant state nestled in the sand beneath the host plants. The following spring, from late April to late May, they metamorphose into pupae. Adult moths emerge from the pupae approximately 10 days later. The Sand-verbena Moth is dependent on the Yellow Sand Verbena throughout every stage of its life. Not only is this flowering plant its sole source of food; the moth also depends on it for reproduction. Such highly dependent relationships are not uncommon among nocturnal moths. However, the extremely specialized habitat requirements shown by both of these species increase the moth's vulnerability.
The main threat to the Sand-Verbena Moth is the reduction in abundance and quality of its host plant due to the degradation of open, sandy habitats (such as coastal dunes) caused by the invasion of vegetation, a natural phenomenon that is occurring at a faster rate due to the introduction of invasive exotic species. In addition, the use of dunes for recreational purposes poses a secondary threat, which could become more significant at the local level. Other factors that threaten the Sand-verbena Moth include a natural pesticide used to control various moth and butterfly pests. Unfortunately, this product also affects non-targeted species, including the Sand-verbena Moth. Finally, climate change poses a potential threat as rising sea levels and global warming could lead to the disappearance of the Sand-verbena Moth's habitat.
The Sand-verbena Moth is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Sand-verbena Moth (Copablepharon fuscum) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
BC Invertebrates Recovery Team
Jennifer Heron - Chair/Contact - Government of BC
Phone: 604-222-6759 Fax: 604-660-1849 Send Email
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
16 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Action Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Critical Habitat Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Permits and Related Agreements (2 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (2 record(s) found.)
- Exceptions (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Sand-verbena Moth (2004-10-22)The global population of this moth is very small and occurs in a very restricted range. The Canadian population, occurring at only three small sites, is even smaller and more restricted. The moth and its hostplant are habitat specialists dependent on coastal dunes, a rare habitat along the West Coast. This habitat has undergone extensive losses to stabilization of open dunes (including the introduction of invasive plant species), development, and recreational use. The hostplant and therefore the moth are facing the threat of continuing declines due to the loss and degradation of coastal dunes.
Response Statement - Sand-verbena Moth (2015-01-13)This moth and its host plant are habitat specialists dependent on coastal sand ecosystems, a rare and declining habitat along the West Coast of British Columbia. The species occurs at five small and isolated sites within a habitat that is highly threatened by erosion from increased winter storms and sea level rise, dune stabilization by invading vegetation, industrial and recreational development, recreational use, and the potential aerial application of pesticide to control the Gypsy Moth. The host plant and therefore the moth are facing continuing declines due to on-going erosion and degradation of coastal dunes.
Critical Habitat Statements
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2004 (2004-09-16)2004 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014-10-15)Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.