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

Silphium Borer Moth (Papaipema silphii)



Silphium Borer Moth (Papapaima silphii), listed as Endangered, prefers sunny areas where host plants (Silphium species including prairie dock, cup-plant, rosinweed, and compass plant) exist in good numbers. Habitat is generally wet to dry-mesic prairie.

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 Silphium Borer Moth (Papaipema silphii). 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 Papaipema silphii in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2S3
Global RankG3G4
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was compiled from publication PUB-ER-085-99 (now out-of-print).

Identification: Adults are medium-sized moths with wingspans of 38-50 mm. Forewings are dull brown and heavily frosted with broad white scales. The marginal third of the forewing beyond the postmedial line is pale grayish and the hindwings are dull brown. Adults may be confused with other brown/gray Papaipema moths. Young Papaipema larvae are dark with dorsal and sub-dorsal white lines. Older larvae are translucent with markings very faint or absent. Search for larvae in host plant stems or roots beginning in late July.

Habitat: Inhabits wet to wet-mesic prairie or sedge meadow supporting the host plant, prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum). Possibly cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) of wet wooded areas may also be used by moths.

State Distribution: Occurs in Columbia, Dane, Green, Jefferson, Kenosha, Walworth, and Waukesha counties of Wisconsin.

Phenology: Adults fly from late August through late September, with the peak usually occurring during the first two weeks of September. The eggs are probably laid on the lower stems or on the soil near the host plant where they spend the winter. Larvae hatch in the spring and bore into the lower stalks of prairie dock, causing withering and browning of leaves. Pupation occurs in August in the soil.

Management Guidelines: Sensitive to fire. Overwintering eggs are exposed and may be killed by controlled burns conducted in fall or early spring. Larvae are present on the plants throughout the summer until pupation. No information is available to indicate when larvae use the roots of the plants where they would be more protected from fire. Where fire is used, allow sufficient unburned areas of habitat from which recolonization can take place.



Silphium Borer Moth

Photo © Les Ferge.

Silphium Borer Moth

Photo © Robert Panzer.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Silphium Borer Moth. Only natural communities for which Silphium Borer 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
Wet-mesic Prairie 3
Mesic Prairie 2
Oak Opening 2
Wet Prairie 2

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Silphium Borer 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 Silphium Borer Moth 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, October 08, 2020