Species Profile

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.

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Description

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.

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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.

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Habitat

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.

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Biology

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).

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Threats

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.

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Protection

Federal Protection

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

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

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Recovery Initiatives

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

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Documents

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

Response Statements

  • 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.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Verna's Flower Moth (Schinia verna) in Canada (2016-02-01)

    The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister under SARA for the Verna’s Flower Moth and has prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba as per section 39(1) of SARA.

Orders

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.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PNR-2010-0143), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-05-15)

    Transects where larval host plants occur will be walked in May and June and swept with a standard butterfly not to catch adult moths. Individual moths will be identified by placing live individuals in a plastic container lined with cotton and examined. The moths will be released within 15 minutes of capture. All non-target species will also be released. A clipping of host plant (an inflorescence and leaf), adjacent to where the moth alighted, will be collected for positive identification by a plant biologist. One voucher specimen moth from each site will be collected and deposited in the University of Alberta Strickland Museum.

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.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species January 2019 (2019-01-15)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection afforded by the prohibitions and from recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 580 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments by May 13, 2019, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 14, 2019, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry website at: The Minister of the Environment's Response to Species at Risk Assessments.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
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