Bog Buckmoth

Photo credit, Jesse W. Jaycox, NYNHP

Bog buckmoth, (Hemileuca spp.) is a unique, day-flying silk moth species in the family Saturniidae. they have stunning white, black, and orange markings with a large wing span. The larval stage of this species is dependent on a bog plant called bog buckbean. The diurnal habits, physical attributes, and specialized habitat of the bog buck moth make it a species of interest. Natural and human-caused impacts have reduced the specialized habitats needed for the survival of bog buck moths. Due to the rarity of this species, bog buck moths are considered an endangered species in New York.


Bog buckthorn moths are only found in rare and distinctive wetlands called calcareous fens where its primary host plant the bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)grows. Below are two photos that depict the bogbean plant and a calcareous fen habitat.


Photo by, Ben Kimball 2023
Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR

Bog buckmoths are sparsely distributed and are only found in ten colonies throughout the world with six of those colonies located in Oswego County, NY, and the other four in eastern Ontario, Canada. In NY, bog buck moths can be found in wetlands sheltered by the eastern Lake Ontario dune network.

Photo credit, Tuskes et al. 1996


Adult Bog Moths:

Wings: Have distinctive white and black lined segments with two yellow eye spots and orange hairs on their abdomen.

size: Males have a wingspan of about 5 to 6 cm, while females are slightly larger with a wingspan of 6 to 7 cm. Each has a length of about 3.8 cm.



Body: Grows up to 6CM long and is predominantly black in color with white specks and covered in yellowish-colored stinging hairs with reddish-colored stumpy prolegs. The sting from bog moth larvae can cause itching, burning, and nausea.

Size: 65 mm long and 8mm in diameter


Sixth instar bog buck moth larvae, K. Sime


  • Cornell, Jennifer C., Nancy E. Stamp, and M. Deane Bowers. “Developmental Change in Aggregation, Defense and Escape Behavior of Buckmoth Caterpillars, Hemileuca Lucina (Saturniidae).” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Behav Ecol Sociobiol 20.6 (1987): 383-88. Http://publications.gc.ca/. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, 2009. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.
  • Penney, Mary. “Bog Buckmoth (Hemileuca Spp.).” Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes and Wetlands Fact Sheet Series June 2010 H (n.d.): n. pag. Seagrant.sunysb.edu. New York Sea Grant. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.
  • The Taxonomic Report of the International Lepidoptera Survey (photo source for adult bog buckmoth)

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