Verna's Flower Moth
Scientific Name: Schinia verna
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2017
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: C2a(i)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This moth is endemic to the Canadian prairies. Despite much search effort over the past two decades, it has been found infrequently. This species is believed to be naturally rare within suitable prairie habitat, which is fragmented as a result of agricultural development. The total population is likely small (less than 10,000 adults), divided into smaller subpopulations, based on expert opinion, collection records, and extensive search effort at known localities of this moth.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in May 2005. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2017.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2009-03-05
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.
Verna’s Flower Moth is a small moth with a wingspan of about 20 mm. Like most other owlet moths, it is stout-bodied. The sexes are similar in appearance. The forewings are contrastingly marked with maroon and olive-brown on a white background. The hindwings are black and white, giving the moth an overall checkered appearance. The egg is translucent-white when first laid, becoming suffused with pink within days. The mature larva is pale greenish-white with a yellow-green transverse band across each segment. Rows of prominent black spots occur along the back and sides. The larva transforms into a light orange pupa and overwinters in that form, emerging as an adult in the spring.
Distribution and Population
Verna’s Flower Moth occurs only in Canada, in the Prairie provinces (southeastern Alberta, west-central Saskatchewan, and southwestern Manitoba). First reported in Canada in 1929, Verna’s Flower Moth has been reported in a total of four localities, all in the Prairie provinces, from Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba to Jenner and Medicine Hat in Alberta. The species is believed to be extant at only one site. The most recent record is a single specimen collected in 2000 in the Red Deer River valley, north of Jenner, Alberta. No data are currently available on Canadian population sizes or trends.
Verna’s Flower Moth inhabits sparsely vegetated prairie grasslands where colonies of pussytoes, the larval food plant, occur. Livestock grazing may be required to maintain patches of flowering pussytoes that are large enough to support colonies of Verna’s flower moths.
Unlike most moths, Verna’s Flower Moth is active only during the day. It has a life cycle consisting of complete metamorphosis from egg to larva to pupa to adult. This life cycle takes one year to complete. Verna’s Flower Moth reproduces during the brief adult flight period between late May and mid-June. This flight period is closely synchronized with the blooming of pussytoes, the larval food plant. The larvae are known to feed only on the seeds and flowers of pussytoes. The larvae go through five or occasionally six instars before pupating. Final-instar larvae burrow into the ground, where they construct a shallow chamber in which they pupate and overwinter. The adults emerge the following spring. Like other adult moths, Verna’s Flower Moth requires nectar sources for food, but it is not known which flower species are suitable. Few data are available on the biology of this small moth, which was described as a new species relatively recently (1983).
The occurrence of Verna’s Flower Moth is undoubtedly limited by the availability of appropriate prairie grassland with populations of the host plant. More specific data on host plant and habitat requirements of Verna’s Flower Moth are lacking. Light to moderate grazing may be necessary to maintain food plant patches of suitable size and quality. The most obvious threats to Verna’s Flower Moth are those that adversely affect the larval host plant. Habitat loss or fragmentation as a result of agricultural tillage or severe overgrazing would result in loss of vegetative cover, including patches of the host plants.
The Verna's 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.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Verna’s Flower Moth (Schinia verna) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
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.
15 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (4 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Permits and Related Agreements (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Verna's Flower Moth (2019-01-11)This moth is endemic to the Canadian prairies. Despite much search effort over the past two decades, it has been found infrequently. This species is believed to be naturally rare within suitable prairie habitat, which is fragmented as a result of agricultural development. The total population is likely small (less than 10,000 adults), divided into smaller subpopulations, based on expert opinion, collection records, and extensive search effort at known localities of this moth.
Response Statements - Verna's Flower Moth (2007-03-15)This moth is found only in the Canadian prairies, with one extant site in southeastern Alberta. The species is known historically from very few locations despite its relatively large size, distinctive markings and day-flying habit. It has a small total range in suitable native prairie that is fragmented and declining in quality and extent.
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 2017 to 2018 (2018-10-15)Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 90 wildlife species and 11 of these were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 90, COSEWIC re-examined the status of 38 wildlife species; of these, the majority (87%) were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 771 wildlife species in various risk categories including 338 Endangered, 183 Threatened, 228 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 18 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, and a total of 59 wildlife species have also been designated as Data Deficient and 197 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.