Dusky Dune Moth
Scientific Name: Copablepharon longipenne
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2007
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B2ab(ii,iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: The species is restricted to open, active sand areas that are both fragmented and declining. Although it may be common where found, it occurs in a small proportion of the total seemingly suitable sites and has been lost from historical localities. Dispersal between dune systems is considered to be extremely unlikely. Since the 1940’s, the area of suitable habitat has declined by an estimated 10-20% per decade.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in November 2007.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2010-02-23
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.
The Dusky Dune Moth, Copablepharon longipenne, has two subspecies: C. longipenne longipenne and C. longipenne serraticornis. Only C. longipenne longipenne is found in Canada.
The Dusky Dune Moth is a medium-sized light brown moth. Adults are sexually dimorphic in size: forewing length averages 16.5 mm in males and 18.5 mm in females. A pale streak with a distinctive line of small black dots is often present along the edge of the forewing. The hindwing is brown-grey, darkening towards the fringe. This fringe is dark brown basally and white outwardly. The eggs are translucent white spheres approximately 0.3 mm in diameter. They are deposited in groups of 15 to 35 in open sand. The caterpillars have a grey base colour overlain with brownish-red stripes. Their heads are light brown with grey mottling, and the ventral surface is distinctly bluish. A fragile layer of agglomerated sand granules protects the pupa, from which the adult emerges.
Distribution and Population
The range of the Dusky Dune Moth extends from southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to western Texas and southern New Mexico. Since 1922, the species has been observed at 12 localities in Canada: in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Except for the population in Brandon, Manitoba, all known populations are found in the Palliser Triangle, the driest region in the Canadian prairies. It is not known if the Dusky Dune Moth has been extirpated from any sites in Canada. Sparsely vegetated active sand dunes no longer occur in the Lethbridge area in Alberta, and it is unlikely that the population recorded there in 1922 is still present. Stabilization of dunes by vegetation in the Middle Sand Hills, Alberta, and elsewhere may have resulted in the extirpation of some populations or sub-populations. There are no data on population sizes and long-term trends for the Dusky Dune Moth. Based on the stabilization trends of active sand dunes in the southern Canadian prairies, populations are probably declining at a rate of 10 to 20% per decade. This rate of decline is expected to continue until at least 2025. This rate of decline assumes that there are no other impacts on the survival of this species, and it is therefore likely underestimated.
The Dusky Dune Moth is associated with sparsely vegetated active sand dunes. It is considered a habitat specialist because it is found only in this type of habitat. Field observations suggest that the presence of open sand is important for reproduction; females were observed laying eggs on the edge of active sand dunes. Although sand deposits are widespread in the southern Prairie provinces, active sand dunes occur infrequently and they make up only a very small fraction of the total area of dune fields. Suitable habitat for the Dusky Dune Moth is therefore extremely fragmented and patchy.
Little is known about the biology of this moth, which is difficult to observe in the field. However, it is known that the Dusky Dune Moth has only one flight season per year; in Canada, this season is approximately 10 weeks long and extends from the middle of June to the middle of August. Adults have been observed gathering nectar from the flowers of dune plants, particularly lance-leaved psoralea, during the evening. Breeding coincides with the flight season, and adult moths die shortly after reproducing. Mating has been observed to occur on plants or on the sand surface near vegetation. Eggs are deposited in groups of 15 to 35 approximately 1 cm below the sand surface; the caterpillars hatch after approximately three weeks. The caterpillars grow in July and August, the two warmest months in the Canadian prairies, and likely overwinter in the sand, although conditions are unknown. Based on the variability of plant species recorded within the immediate vicinity of sites in which the Dusky Dune Moth is found, this moth is probably not restricted to a single host plant for nectar for the adults, for reproduction, or for food for the caterpillars.
The progressive stabilization of sand dunes caused by colonizing vegetation is considered a serious threat to all Dusky Dune Moth populations in Canada. Development activities (e.g., road building and petroleum infrastructure construction) that result in the destruction of sand dunes are considered a possible threat to the Dusky Dune Moth. However, some disturbance associated with development may create suitable habitat for this moth by increasing the amount of open sand. Canadian populations may be at risk from demographic collapse because of their small size and their isolation. Because of these factors, these populations may be at an increased risk of extinction. Grazing has contradictory effects on Dusky Dune Moth habitat. Although grazing can help maintain sparsely vegetated sand dunes that serve as the habitat for this moth, it may also result in soil compaction and the removal of vegetation that the caterpillars use for food. Grazing of vegetation may also crush eggs, caterpillars and pupae. Grazing is therefore considered a possible threat to this moth. Recreation, including horseback riding, use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and hiking, may be intensive in some sand dunes and may result in loss of vegetation, disturbance to sand substrates, and destruction of eggs, caterpillars and pupae. Recreational activities may also maintain or create open sand habitats. Recreational activities are therefore considered a possible threat.
The Dusky Dune 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 Dusky Dune Moth (Copablepharon longipenne) 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.
10 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Permits and Related Agreements (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Dusky Dune Moth (2008-11-26)The species is restricted to open, active sand areas that are both fragmented and declining. Although it may be common where found, it occurs in a small proportion of the total seemingly suitable sites and has been lost from historical localities. Dispersal between dune systems is considered to be extremely unlikely. Since the 1940’s, the area of suitable habitat has declined by an estimated 10-20% per decade.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 - 2008 (2008-08-28)2008 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Permits and Related Agreements
Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette
Description of critical habitat for the Dusky Dune Moth, the Smooth Goosefoot and the Western Harvest Mouse, dychei subspecies, in the Canadian Forces Base Suffield National Wildlife Area (2016-02-20)The Dusky Dune Moth (Copablepharon longipenne), the Smooth Goosefoot (Chenopodium subglabrum) and the Western Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis dychei) are species that are listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.