Living With the Rattlesnake-Master Borer

Rattlesnake-Master Borer

Rattlesnake-Master Borer
Photo: William Glass

The Rattlesnake-Master Borer, Papaipema eryngii, is a rare moth found only in 5 states: Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The moth is specialist with only one known host plant: Rattlesnake Master. Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium; Apiaceae; Carrot Family) is a prairie perennial present in at least 26 states. Prairie extends east from Illinois into northwestern Indiana, yet surveys conducted in Indiana have not found the moth to date. Rattlesnake Master moths lay eggs at the base of the plant in late fall. Caterpillars hatch in late spring and bore into the stems. Development requires several months and adults emerge in early fall.

The USFWS proposed in 2013 to officially list Rattlesnake Master Borers as a threatened species (.pdf). They are threatened due to loss of habitat. Native prairie has been diminished in part from competition from non-native plants. Prairie can be enhanced by controlled burns and active management. Habitat management is a key to the success of this species.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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