New York Natural Heritage Program
Pine Devil
Citheronia sepulcralis Grote and Robinson, 1865

Threats [-]
The Pine Devil has been eradicated from New England, representing approximately 5% or more of its range, almost certainly due to an out-of-control generalist parasitoid, the tachinid fly Compsilura concinnata (NatureServe 2010). The parasitoid was introduced from Europe to control outbreaks of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) (Webber and Schaffner 1926); however it also greatly reduced populations of other moth species (Boettner et al. 2000). Currently the parasitoid is established in much of the eastern United States. It has had minimal impacts on native butterflies and moths in some places (e.g., southern New Jersey), but it has greatly reduced or wiped out many species of large summer moths in other areas (e.g., southern New England). Some butterfly and moth species are recovering in some places, and others are persisting in very low numbers. Moths in the genera Citheronia and Eacles appear to be the most vulnerable to eradication. In addition to the parasitoid, massive DDT spraying of northeastern forests in the 1950s and 1960s also contributed to the eradication of the Pine Devil from New England. Elimination and fragmentation of habitat by commercial and residential development are also threats. It is likely that moths in the genus Citheronia are vulnerable to extreme light pollution in large cities, but these moths can do well in areas with normal suburban and rural lighting (NatureServe 2010).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
The management needs for the Pine Devil in New York State are uncertain. In general, suitable pine forest habitat should be maintained.

Research Needs [-]
Additional inventory and monitoring is needed to determine if the Pine Devil still exists in New York State. Currently, the species is thought to be extirpated or very rare north of Pennsylvania and New Jersey (Maier et al. 2004). The species can be sought during its flight season at light traps left in habitats that contain the larval foodplants, pines (Pinus spp.). In the Northeast, before the species became extirpated from the area, adults were captured in early-mid July (NatureServe 2010). In the Mid-Atlantic states and Appalachia, adults have been captured from mid-June to late July (Tuskes et al. 1996). Research is needed to better understand the factors behind the major regional differences in the impacts of the parasitoid fly Compsilura concinnata, in order to determine whether the Pine Devil is unthreatened in much of its range outside of New England, as now appears to be the case, or whether it is at high risk of imminent massive reduction (NatureServe 2010).