New York Natural Heritage Program
Jack Pine Looper
Macaria marmorata (Ferguson, 1972)

Threats [-]
The loss of jack pine dominance in occupied sites due to wildlife suppression, logging, or mineral excavation are potential threats. While the loss of jack pines due to fire suppression is a potential threat, a large fire could also destroy the only known occurrences in the state. The spraying of biological control agents or pesticides for gypsy moths is another potential threat. While gypsy moths inhabit deciduous forest and this species inhabits jack pine barrens the two known occurrences are adjacent to mixed and deciduous forest. It is unknown if the use of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis - a bacterial biological control agent designed to kill gypsy moth caterpillars) would kill Macaria marmorata caterpillars. McCabe (2004) documented the defoliation of jack pines brought to Albany, NY to raise Zale duplicata larvae by pine sawflies, and noted the possibility that this fly may limit jack pine occurrence in the state to locations on sandstone or flat rock areas where soil is too sparse for the development of pine sawfly larvae.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Since Macaria marmorata depends on jack pine, which is a fire adapted species, appropriate fire management may be needed to maintain the jack pine component of the two known statewide occurrences. Because jack pine cones are located and held at the top of the tree, high intensity crown fires are necessary for the cones to open and germinate in large numbers. Some cones on each tree may not be encased in as thick a resin and may open without fire and some populations of jack pine may be more prone to this condition and may, therefore, not be as fire dependent. There is concern that the barrens where the two Macaria marmorata occurrences are located are reaching maturity and may be replaced by other species if fire is excluded from the system (Hawver 1993). However, any prescibed burning program should take into account rare lepidoptera species which could be negatively affected by loss of eggs, pupae, larvae, or adults depending on the size and timing of the burned area. Any burning should leave refugia or large areas of unburned habitat and the entire occurrence should not be burned in the same year. More research is needed into the biology of Macaria marmorata and several other highly habitat-specific rare lepidoptera species that inhabit theses barrens before any intensive management strategy is determined (McCabe 2004).

Research Needs [-]
Inventory of moths within jack pine sandstone barrens in the state are needed to determine if there are additional unknown locations. More sampling in the two known locations is necessary to determine the population sizes and trends. Inventory in other northeastern states and Canada is needed to determine the global distribution. Research is also needed to determine the phenology and life cycles in New York.