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For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
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Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Phyllira Tiger Moth (Grammia phyllira)



Phyrilla Tiger Moth (Grammia phyllira) has forewings that are black with thick pinkish-white or cream-colored lines. The hindwings are pink with black patches toward the outer margin.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Phyllira Tiger Moth (Grammia phyllira). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Grammia phyllira in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was originally presented as part of the Online Field Guide to Rare Lepidoptera: Bogs and Barrens.

Identification: The forewings are black with thick pinkish-white or cream-colored lines. The hindwings are pink with black patches toward the outer margin. Send specimen to a specialist for identification. Tiger Moths caterpillars are conspicuously hairy. The larva is similar to G. Oithona (Oithona tiger moth), which is mottled deep gray and black with a series of yellow dorsal dots, and is covered with regular tufts of equal-length black hair (Forbes 1960).

Similar Species: Grammia oithona has fine white lines along the wing veins of the forewing. G. figurata has a continuous black marginal border on the hindwing.

Habitat: Extensive areas of sandy soil, generally supporting barrens or disturbed old field vegetation. Inland sand barrens, dunes, sand prairies and Lake Michigan dunes.

Nectar Source: Adults have a rudimentary tongue and do not feed.

Host Plant: A polyphagous species. Many plants have been suggested as possible hosts including wild lupine (Lupinus perennis), chinkapin (Castanea pumila), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), and corn (Zea mays).

Associated Species: Grammia oithona.

State Distribution: Very local. Door, Manitowoc, Sheboygan county dunes; sand areas of the Lower Wisconsin River in Dane, Grant, Iowa, Richland and Sauk counties; and Jackson, Monroe and Waushara counties in the Central Sands. Also collected from Marathon and Marinette counties. Seems to still be secure in southern Coastal Plains and to be holding its own in Great Lakes region. Still a rather rare, vulnerable species in most of its range.

Global Distribution: Several disjunct ranges: Atlantic coastal region Maine to Florida; Great Lakes region including Quebec; Colorado to Texas. Scattered records elsewhere.

Rationale for Species Listing and Threats: Loss of sand dune habitat along Lake Michigan to development and overuse of beaches. Habitat destruction by all-terrain vehicles. Closing in of open dune and sand prairie habitats due to succession. Burning of sand prairie may kill overwintering larvae and pupae.

Phenology: Two broods. Adults are usually present from late May-June and from mid-August through early September.

Life and Natural History: Grammia larvae overwinter well grown. Pupation occurs in a cocoon made of mixed silk and hair. (Forbes 1960).

Survey Guidelines: Moths are readily attracted to blacklight if weather conditions permit moth activity. In general, a temperature in the low 50's F or higher at dusk is necessary for successful sampling. Cloudy, humid conditions (even a light drizzle) with little or no moonlight are most desirable. New county records should be documented with voucher specimens.

Inventory, Monitoring and Research Needs: Locate additional populations, particularly in sites where burning is planned.

Management Guidelines: Avoid excessive burning of habitat. Divide area into several burn units leaving a majority of the area unburned in a given year.



Phyllira Tiger Moth

Photo © Les Ferge.

Phyllira Tiger Moth

Photo © Les Ferge.

Phyllira Tiger Moth

Phyllira Tiger Moth

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Phyllira Tiger Moth. Only natural communities for which Phyllira Tiger Moth is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Natural community Score
Great Lakes Dune 3
Sand Barrens 3
Sand Prairie 2

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Phyllira Tiger Moth. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Phyllira Tiger Moth occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, December 22, 2022