New York Natural Heritage Program
Herodias or Pine Barrens Underwing
Catocala herodias gerhardi Barnes and Benjamin, 1927
Insects

Threats [-]
The threats are difficult to assess since some habitats are more management dependent than others. This species should do well with any reasonable fire management program as long as all of the habitat is not burned at once. However, wild fires that could consume the entire occupied habitat are a threat, especially on ridegtops and in small isolated habitats. Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) spraying could be a threat. It would be with chemical biocides and potentially would be with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis - a bacterial biological control used on gypsy moth caterpillars). The closely related Scarlet Underwing (Catocala coccinata) is very sensitive to Bt, but many Catocala are not (Peacock et al. 1998). However, unusually early defoliation, before about 10 June, of scrub oaks on hilltops and ridges could itself annihilate a population (see Schweitzer 2004).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Substantial refugia (unburned patches) are needed when fires burn the habitat, since survival in burned areas is minimal. Habitats supporting this species should be protected from gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) spraying. However, if severe defoliation is likely before about 10 June, then starvation is a risk and it might be prudent to use Bt to reduce defoliation on a portion of the habitat. Starvation of the entire brood is possible if all of the scrub oak foliage is consumed during May. Such early defoliation is not common and is unlikely to occur widely on coastal barrens, but it can occur on outcrops and ridgetops. It is unlikely Bt would kill all of the larvae, but it seems likely it would kill a majority of them.

Research Needs [-]
It would be useful to know how sensitive larvae are to Bt and exactly when most of the larvae finish feeding, so that risks from starvation as compared to Bt applications could be better evaluated in severe gypsy moth outbreaks.