New York Natural Heritage Program
A Hand-maid Moth
Datana ranaeceps (Guérin-Méneville, 1844)

Habitat [-]
In the coastal plain of Long Island, New Jersey, and North Carolina, the normal habitat is open mesic or less often xeric pinelands especially for the first few years after wildfires. In New Jersey a population occurs on regularly winter-mowed low shrubland in an airport approach zone. The habitat is unclear in the mountains, but the Virginia specimen was collected in a hardwood-hemlock mix in a ravine. The Pennsylvania specimen was collected in a frequently burned shrubland-grassland-woodland mix. In New Jersey the species does not occur in closed canopy forests even where the foodplants are common. This is probably true in other coastal areas. It is not unusual to find larvae on mowed roadside sprouts in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (NatureServe 2010). In New York State, the species has been documented in a degraded remnant of a Hempstead Plains grassland.

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Hempstead Plains grassland
    A tall grassland community that occurs on rolling outwash plains in west-central Long Island. This community occurs inland, beyond the influence of offshore winds and salt spray.
  • Pitch pine-heath barrens*
    A shrub-savanna community that occurs on well-drained, sandy or rocky soils. The most abundant tree is pitch pine and the shrublayer is dominated by heath shrubs.

    * probable association but not confirmed