Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Eagle license plate

Help care for rare plants and animals by ordering an Endangered Resources plate.

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

Sprague's Pygarctica (Pygarctia spraguei)

Need a main photo for this animal


There is no overview information available for that species.

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 Sprague's Pygarctica (Pygarctia spraguei). 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 Pygarctia spraguei in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5
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: A somewhat smaller than average Arctiid moth having smooth gray forewings edged with orange along the leading edge and inner margin. The hindwings are gray like the forewings but unmarked. The abdomen is orange with a dorsal row of black spots. Collect and submit specimen to a specialist for verification. Wingspan: 35-39 mm. Length of forewing: 17-19 mm. Larvae bear tufts of hair with black bases from pale warts. Hairs are outwardly pinkish-gray but blackish on the middorsum. The skin is pale green shaded with pale orange at the sides and with faint dark dorsal and subspiracular lines. Head and prolegs pale reddish. The cocoon consists of silk and hair mixed with earth (Forbes 1960).

Similar Species: The milkweed tiger moth (Euchaetes egle) has unmarked gray forewings and a yellow abdomen.

Habitat: Pine barrens and oak savanna in Wisconsin.

Nectar Source: The tongue is reduced in the Arctiidae indicating the adults likely do not feed.

Host Plant: Euphorbia species. Adults have been found in sites with flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata) in Wisconsin.

Associated Species: The Notodontid moth, Hyparpax aurora, usually occurs with P. spraguei in Wisconsin but is somewhat more widespread.

State Distribution: Columbia, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe and Wood counties.

Global Distribution: Northwestern Indiana, into Wisconsin and Michigan, west to Colorado and south to Texas. A localized species, not recorded in some states within its range.

Rationale for Species Listing and Threats: Habitat loss due to woody species and forest encroachment. Burning of barrens habitat. The overwintering larvae or pupae are unprotected and may be vulnerable to fire. Indiscriminate application of biocides for gypsy moth control may also be detrimental.

Phenology: Adults are usually present during the first three weeks of June.

Life and Natural History: Univoltine. It is uncertain whether overwintering occurs as a larva or pupa. Pupation occurs at the surface of the ground (Forbes 1960). A remnant-dependent species (Panzer et al 1995).

Survey Guidelines: Adults are attracted to blacklight at night. New county records should be documented with voucher specimens. Moths are 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.

Inventory, Monitoring and Research Needs: Locate additional populations and verify the hostplant in Wisconsin.

Management Guidelines: If sites are managed by prescribed burning, they should be divided into several burn units leaving the majority of the site unburned in a given season.


No additional photos are available for Sprague's Pygarctica at this time. Please consider donating a photo to the Natural Heritage Conservation program.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Sprague's Pygarctica. Only natural communities for which Sprague's Pygarctica 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
Pine Barrens 3
Oak Barrens 2
Oak Opening 2

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Sprague's Pygarctica. 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 Sprague's Pygarctica occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

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

Back to Top

Last revised: Thursday, December 22, 2022