Species Profile

White Flower Moth

Scientific Name: Schinia bimatris
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: Manitoba
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2014
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(i,ii,iii)+2ab(i,ii,iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: In Canada, this moth is restricted to dunes at one site within the Bald Head Hills of southern Manitoba, which is 1000 km north of the nearest site in the United States. The moth’s habitat is threatened from natural native vegetation succession into the otherwise open and sparsely vegetated sand. Larval host plants are unknown; however they are suspected to be in the Aster family.  The ongoing vegetation encroachment competes with larval host plant quantity and quality.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2005. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2014.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2006-08-15

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.

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Quick Links: | Taxonomy | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents


There are slight differences in appearance between individuals from the Canadian population of White Flower Moth and those from the southern United States. Among other things, individuals from the Canadian population are, on average, slightly larger. This situation warrants closer scrutiny, as it is possible that the southern coastal U.S. and Great Plains populations represent more than one species.



The White Flower Moth is a small nocturnal moth with a wingspan of about 32 mm. It is aptly named because the wings are pure glossy white. The thorax and abdomen are white, and the head is orange. With its unique characteristics, the White Flower Moth cannot be confused with any other Canadian species of moth. There is occasionally a light dusting of brown scales along the outer margin of the hindwing. Like most species belonging to the highly diversified group of owlet moths, it is stout-bodied.


Distribution and Population

The White Flower Moth occurs from Nebraska, south to eastern Texas, and in the east along the Gulf states to Alabama. There are also several records from South Carolina. In Canada, it has been recorded only in southwestern Manitoba. The White Flower Moth is present at the Spirit Dunes in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, and at the Canadian Forces Base Shilo, near Brandon, Manitoba. Additional field surveys are needed in southwestern Manitoba to determine if the species is restricted to this region, or if populations are more widespread in dune habitats overgrown by plants. The size of the Canadian White Flower Moth population has not been determined, but based on the amount of remaining suitable habitat, the population is thought to be between 100 and 5,000 individuals. There are insufficient data to determine trends in population size.



The only known populations in Manitoba inhabit active sand dunes (i.e., dunes that are not stabilized by vegetation) located in the aspen prairie-parkland region. In the southeastern United States, the species occurs in coastal longleaf pine woodlands.



Very few data on the biology of this species are available. In Manitoba, adults have been collected from early to late July. The moth is active both during the day and night. The larval and adult food plants are unknown, but the Spruce Woods population is associated with a species of White Primrose, which may prove to be a larval host. At the Canadian Forces Base Shilo, however, the White Primrose is scarce, which may indicate that the moth may use one or more other plant species as larval hosts in addition to, or instead of, the primrose. The White Primrose blooms during the flight period of the White Flower Moth and its white flowers are the same colour as the adults. Synchrony of flight with flowering and a colouration that enables the adults to blend in with their surroundings occur in many species of flower moths, which rest on host flowers during the day. In most flower moth species, the larvae feed exclusively on the young flowers and seeds of the host plant, completing their development in two to four weeks. Many flower moth species overwinter as pupae, with adult emergence timed to correspond with flowering of the host plant.



The habitat requirements of Canadian populations of White Flower Moth are not known, but the limited availability of suitable dunes may be a threat for the species. Dune stabilization by vegetation overgrowth may also pose a threat. Hotter, drier conditions in the dunes at the two only known sites in Canada may also be detrimental to this species.



Federal Protection

The White Flower 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.

In Canada, the White Flower Moth occurs at the Canadian Forces Base Shilo, which is federal land protected under SARA. It also occurs in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, where its habitat is protected from development.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the White Flower Moth (Schinia bimatris) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date A recovery strategy for the white flower moth is in development. The white flower moth was rediscovered in 2003 in the Spruce Woods Provincial Park. There have been no known surveys on this species since that time, and no change in the population status or distribution of this species since the 2005 COSEWIC status report. Summary of Research and Monitoring Activities Spruce Woods Provincial Park should be resurveyed to confirm population size and distribution. Neighbouring sand dunes in CFB Shilo should also be surveyed to determine presence of this species.


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.

11 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the White Flower Moth Schinia bimatris in Canada (2015-12-09)

    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.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - White Flower Moth (2015-12-23)

    In Canada, this moth is restricted to dunes at one site within the Bald Head Hills of southern Manitoba, which is 1000 km north of the nearest site in the United States. The moth’s habitat is threatened from natural native vegetation succession into the otherwise open and sparsely vegetated sand. Larval host plants are unknown; however they are suspected to be in the Aster family. The ongoing vegetation encroachment competes with larval host plant quantity and quality.
  • Response Statements - White Flower Moth (2005-11-15)

    This moth is associated with dune habitats and is known from a small number of scattered sites in North America, with only one extant site in Canada. Most dune habitats in Canada appear to be too dry for this species. Dune habitat has undergone serious declines and the moth has likely declined as well.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the White Flower Moth (Schinia bimatris) in Canada (2011-08-11)

    The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. White Flower Moth was listed as endangered under SARA in August 2006. Environment Canada led the development of this Recovery Strategy. This recovery strategy was prepared in cooperation with the province of Manitoba and the Department of National Defence.


COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005-08-12)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2014-2015 (2015-11-20)

    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, 2014 to September, 2015) from November 23 to November 28, 2014 and from April 27 to May 1, 2015. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2014-2015 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 1 Endangered: 21 Threatened: 11 Special Concern: 21 Data Deficient: 1 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 24 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same risk status as the previous assessment.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PNR-2007-0063), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-07-27)

    Diurnal surveys will be undertaken for the Ottoe Skipper by walking transects twice per week in suitable habitat using sweep netting. For the White Flower Moth, night time luminoc ultraviolet traps with ethyl acetate will be placed in active sand dune habitat at approximately 5 locations and emptied every three to four nights. The purpose of the surveys is to determine the continued presence of the species in Manitoba.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PNR-2010-0152), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-07-15)

    The purpose of this study is to determine the distribution, abundance, and habitat associations of the Dusky Dune Moth. Non lethal nighttime light trapping will be undertaken at locations where the species has been observed and on suitable habitat not previously surveyed. This information is necessary to aid in the recovery of the species, including identification of critical habitat. One to four traps, depending upon the size of the sand dunes, will be operated from dusk until dawn for one to three nights. Traps will be checked each morning shortly after dawn. After identification, target and non-target moths will be released in nearby shaded dense vegetation cover. A voucher specimen may be collected from each site. An attempt will be made to identify the host plant species. A clipping of the potential host plant species may be collected for positive identification. There is a small possibility of incidental capture of the diurnal Gold Edged Gem and nocturnal White Flower Moth due to similar habitat preferences. This is an amendment to the permit to add two new locations in Saskatchewan and a new assistant.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: November 2005 (2005-11-16)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
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