New York Natural Heritage Program
A Zale Moth
Zale largera (Smith, 1908)

Threats [-]
The loss of jack pine dominance at occupied sites due to wildfire 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 destory the one known occurrence in the state. This species will not persist on other pine species (McCabe 2004). 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 known occurrence is 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 effect Zale largera caterpillars. McCabe (2004) documented the defoliation of jack pines brought to Albany, NY to raise Zale duplicata larvea 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 larvea.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Since Zale largera depends on jack pine, a fire adapted species, appropriate fire management may be needed to maintain the jack pine component of the one known statewide occurrence. 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 only Zale largera occurrence is located is 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 and life-cycles of several highly habitat-specific rare lepidoptera species that inhabit theses barrens before any intensive management strategy is determined (McCabe 2004).

Research Needs [-]
Inventory efforts of jack pine barrens in the state are needed to determine if there are unknown locations where this species may exist. More sampling and monitoring in the Altona Flat Rock barrens is needed to determine the population size and trends there. Inventory is also needed in jack pine barrens in other northeastern states and Canada to determine the species global distribution. Research into the phenology (timing of life stages) of this species is needed.