Inland barrens buckmoth

Inland barrens buckmoth (Hemileuca maia maia)

This beautiful large black and white moth is commonly seen flying in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve on sunny days in late September and early October. A member of the silk moth family, the inland barrens buckmoth is a large and showy moth. Its forewings and hindwings are black with narrow white bands and yellow eyespots. The tip of the abdomen is red in males and black in females. Females lay eggs in tight clusters wrapped around stems of young scrub oak. The eggs overwinter and caterpillars hatch in the spring to feed on scrub oak leaves. Initially these black spikey caterpillars stay together to feed in a group. As they grow, they disperse to feed on their own. Eventually the caterpillars descend to the ground and pupate in the sandy soil. Adults emerge in the fall.


Habitat: Inland barrens buckmoths depend on scrub oak as their larval host plant and require sandy soil to pupate. These conditions are typically found in coastal and inland pine barrens. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve, having both sandy soil and scrub oaks, is an important refuge for inland barrens buckmoths.


Cool Facts:
• Inland barrens buckmoths eat only during their larval stage.
• Buckmoths are a wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need in New York State.

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