Plant borders on endangered
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the rattlesnake-master borer moth, a species associated with prairie habitats, warrants listing under the Endangered Species Act. However, the Service will not immediately propose the species as endangered or threatened due to species with higher priority for listing.
The rattlesnake-master borer moth occurs in 16 populations in five states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The moth is named for its reliance on the rattlesnake-master, a prairie plant which is its only food source. Adult borer moths lay their eggs in the vicinity of the plant in the fall where the eggs overwinter in the prairie duff.
In the spring, larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on leaves of the rattlesnake-master until they are ready to burrow into the root of the plant. The moth stays in the burrow until late summer when it pupates and adults emerge again in mid-September. Rattlesnake-master borer moths depend on undisturbed prairie that contains their food source, and loss of prairie habitat to other land uses is likely causing populations to decline.
The rattlesnake-master borer moth is among 475 species included in a 2007 petition from WildEarth Guardians asking for Endangered Species Act protection. In a preliminary finding issued in 2009, the Service determined that the status of the rattlesnake-master borer moth needed further review. Today’s finding indicates that while the moth warrants listing as endangered or threatened, there are other species with higher priority for listing.
The Service will add the rattlesnake-master borer moth to its candidate list, and the species’ status will be reviewed with the annual Candidate Notice of Review. When resources are available and higher priority species are addressed, the Service will propose the moth as endangered or threatened.
During the time the moth is a candidate, the Service will work with our partners on conservation actions that may benefit the species, and ultimately, which may preclude the need to list the moth.mplementing conservation efforts before species are listed increases the likelihood that simpler, more cost-effective conservation options are available, and that conservation efforts will succeed. Collaborative approaches such as candidate conservation agreements are voluntary agreements between the Service and one or more parties which can help to address the conservation needs of candidate species.
In such agreements, participants voluntarily carry out practices that remove or reduce threats to the candidate so that listing may not be necessary.
For information on the rattlesnake-master borer moth and the Endangered Species Act, go to www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered.
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