New York Natural Heritage Program
Chain Fern Borer Moth
Papaipema stenocelis (Dyar, 1907)

Threats [-]
In general, anything that kills or stunts the larval foodplant, Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), is a threat. The most obvious threat is habitat loss. In addition, hydrological alterations in occupied wetlands could destroy the ferns. Herbicide use along transportation and utility corridors could damage Woodwardia virginica in nearby occupied wetlands. The spread of invasive plants might be a threat. Mosquito spraying may be a threat, as well. Where this species is occupying multiple small habitat patches as a metapopulation, artificial lights (including bug zappers) operating in the early fall could disrupt necessary movements between these patches (Eisenbeis 2006; Frank 2006). This could cause fern patches where a local colony dies out to remain unoccupied, and this could eventually eliminate the entire population.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Occupied wetlands should be evaluated to minimize encroachment and fragmentation by development. This is because 1) several species in the genus Papaipema tend to not occupy small habitat patches and 2) surrounding natural areas serve as buffers that reduce the impact of sediments, nutrients, and pollutants entering wetlands in stormwater runoff. A general recommendation for species in the genus Papaipema is that five to ten hectares of habitat should be conserved at a site in order to safeguard a population against assumed events, human disturbance, or intense localized predation in some places in some years, which tends to vary from season to season. For species that are not prone to severe disturbances, such as the Chain Fern Borer Moth [which is relatively less prone to deer herbivory of its larval foodplant, Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica)], smaller habitats that contain dense stands of the foodplant can support viable populations (NatureServe 2010). In occupied areas, the following practices would be beneficial: 1) maintaining the natural hydrology, 2) restricting herbicide and insecticide spraying, and 3) conducting forestry practices, and transportation and utility corridor maintenance practices, in a way that minimizes negative impacts to occupied wetlands. In areas where artificial lighting is necessary, using sodium lights or other low ultraviolet lamps would be beneficial. Controlling invasive plants that threaten Woodwardia virginica would be beneficial. Monitoring deer herbivory in more upland habitats may also be beneficial. Although deer generally do not severely impact ferns, they sometimes do eat the young fronds in May. If they eat a lot of the fronds in the spring, they might be significant predators on young larvae.