New York Natural Heritage Program
Aureolaria Seed Borer
Pyrrhia aurantiago (Guenée, 1852)

Threats [-]
The main threats to the Aureolaria seed borer in New York State are fire suppression, loss of habitat due to development, and excessive browsing of larval foodplants by overpopulations of deer (Schweitzer et al. 2010). The Aureolaria seed borer is especially susceptible to browse damage caused by deer because young larvae that are feeding on fern-leaf yellow false foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularia) and smooth yellow false foxglove (A. flava) are likely to be consumed directly by deer that are browsing those plants, and older larvae will starve if deer eat all of the flowers or young seed pods. An exacerbating factor is that A. pedicularia, which is possibly the most commonly used foodplant, is an annual, so deer can eradicate it in an area rather rapidly. Repeated browsing by deer can also kill A. flava, which is a perennial. Fires during the species' active period of August through October would likely eradicate a population, and fires in June or July might prevent the flowering of the larval foodplants, which would also eliminate a population (NatureServe 2010). Similarly, mowing before the foodplants seed is a threat.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Most populations of the Aureolaria seed borer will persist if adequate habitat remains and at least some larval foodplants are allowed to seed during the species' active season. The main larval foodplant, fern-leaf yellow false foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularia), is an annual and may shift dramatically in space and time. The plant can be almost decimated in some years but can recover quickly in subsequent years. Prescribed fires that are conducted in the winter or spring would likely benefit the larval foodplants, since A. pedicularia is associated with recent disturbances, such as fires, and it declines within a few years following a disturbance. Prescribed fires that are conducted in June or July might prevent larval foodplants from flowering, which would eliminate a population, and prescribed fires conducted during the species' active season in August to October would eliminate a population, unless some habitat was left unburned to provide refugia for the species. Areas where the Aureolaria seed borer is documented should be evaluated to avoid additional encroachment or fragmentation by development. Measures to reduce the overpopulation of deer would benefit this species. In addition, occupied areas such as powerline cuts and roadsides should be mowed after the foodplants seed. Since the Aureolaria seed borer spends most of the year as an underground pupa, it is not likely to be harmed by spraying conducted to control gypsy moths (D. Schweitzer, personal communication).