North American Lepidoptera Biodiversity LLC


Check List of the Lepidoptera Recorded from Kingdom Come State Park in Mid July and Early August of 2002


Macrolepidoptera Families: Thyatiridae, Drepanidae, Geometridae, Epiplemidae, Hesperiidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae, Nymphalidae, Mimallonidae, Lasiocampidae, Apatelodidae, Saturniidae, Sphingidae, Notodontidae, and Noctuidae; also including: Yponomeutidae, Attevidae, Urodidae, Cossidae, Lacturidae, Zygaenidae, Megalopygidae, Limacodidae, Epipyropidae, and Thyrididae


By Hugo L. Kons Jr. & Robert J. Borth


Posted on the web 26 September 2007


This on-line publication is an exemplar of one of the localities included in an upcoming volume of the North American Journal of Lepidoptera Biodiversity.  This volume will present detailed biodiversity inventory data and analysis for 44 days of field work conducted in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Indiana between 1 June and 16 August 2002.  The data from this project includes at least 12,219 unique Lepidoptera records for 951 species in the included families, and will be presented for each locality in a format comparable to that presented for Kingdom Come State Park below.  Those who would be interested in receiving e-mail notification of when this volume is published should contact the senior author at, to be placed on an e-mail notification list for NAJLB volumes.  Placement on this list constitutes no obligation to purchase any NAJLB volumes and is for notification purposes only.


Abstract:  We present detailed Lepidoptera biodiversity inventory results for six survey dates at Kingdom Come State Park in Harlan and Letcher Counties, Kentucky.  Surveys were conducted during mid July and early August of 2002.  We report 1,636 unique species records for 419 species, including 402 species of Macrolepidoptera.


Introduction:  Kingdom Come State Park is located in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Kentucky in Harlan and Letcher Counties.  The park encompasses part of the crest of Big Pine Mountain, with elevations reaching approximately 2663 feet within the park.  Two forested habitat types are prevalent in the park: mesic hardwood forest and xeric oak-pine forest.  There are some small mountain streams flowing through the park, and a man made lake which we did not investigate.  Note that a scientific collecting permit must be obtained in order to conduct Lepidoptera research in Kingdom Come and other Kentucky State Parks.



Methods:  Our surveys were conducted with MV sheets, UV traps, type P and F bait traps, a bait trail, and diurnal collecting with nets and jars.  Follow this link for illustrations and a discussion of these survey methods.  The following tables provide the dates and locations of our survey stations, and information on weather and moon conditions when surveys were conducted.  At each survey station on each survey date we attempted to document all species encountered in the included families.  Far more effort was devoted to surveying the nocturnal Lepidoptera fauna than the diurnal Lepidoptera fauna, and HLK stayed up all night on each of the survey nights.  We did no diurnal surveys at all in the park during July as the weather was always cloudy and/or rainy when we were there during the day.


KCSP Survey Stations


KCSP Survey Stations Day


KC Weather




Voucher Specimens:  At least one voucher specimen substantiates all unique species records.  A unique species record (USR) is the collection of one or more specimens of a species from one survey station on one survey date.  Voucher specimens are currently in the personal research collections of the authors or in the Milwaukee Public Museum.  All voucher specimens were determined by the senior author with the exception of Eupithecia species (other than E. miserulata), which were determined by George Balogh.


Results:  The following table, taken from a draft of our upcoming NAJLB volume on our mid latitude eastern U.S. surveys, presents the detailed Lepidoptera biodiversity inventory data for the included families at KCSP.  The columns of this table can be cross referenced with the above table to get the detailed information for each survey station.  The “USR” column gives the number of unique species records for each species.  The total column has the cells checked for all of the species we recorded among our KCSP surveys, and gives the total number of species recorded in each category, including 419 species recorded from all of the included families and 402 species of Macrolepidoptera.  The table includes 1,636 unique species records.  Numbers to the left of the species name are from the Hodges et al. (1983) check list, and serve as a citation for the describing author and date of description.


KC Data 1


KC Data 2


KC Data 3


KC Data 4


KC Data 5



Discussion:  Other Lepidopterists had previously visited Kingdom Come State Park prior to our surveys there, and Covell (1999) lists numerous Lepidoptera species as having been found at Kingdom Come State Park.  Covell (1999) reports localities where species have been collected in Kentucky, but does not provide species lists for localities, so to see what species are reported from KCSP one has check records for each individual species.  Many of the species we recorded from KCSP were not reported from KCSP in Covell (1999), and vice versa.  Covell (1999) lists many species from KCSP which are univoltine and do not occur as adults during the times of year when our KCSP surveys were conducted.  We also examined some KCSP specimens housed at the park in two drawers.  These drawers contained primarily species we found to be common in the park during the time of our surveys.

            Since our survey work in Kentucky has been limited to a few nights of survey on Big Pine Mountain and Big Black Mountain, we cannot make any statements as to what species of Lepidoptera are local or poorly known in Kentucky from our own experience.  However, based on what it stated in Covell (1999), it appears we recorded substantial number of species that are poorly known in Kentucky with just our few nights of survey at Kingdom Come State Park. 

            We recorded ten species from KCSP that Covell (1999) did not include in his check list of Kentucky Lepidoptera.  These species include: Eupithecia regina, Idia herminioides, Idia laurentii, Dyspyralis illocata, Callopistria floridensis, Apamea species, Elaphria cornutinis, Homorthodes lindseyi, Euretagrotis perattenta, and Noctua pronuba.  One of these species, Callopistria floridensis, is almost certainly not a resident of Kentucky, and we hypothesize it is not a permanent resident even as far south as Gainesville, FL (Kons and Borth 2006).  As we collected only one specimen, this record may be an isolated stray from the south.  Noctua pronuba is an introduced European species that is expanding its range in North America.  Idia herminioides is sometimes treated as a synonym of Idia aemula (HLK considers this possibility to be quite unlikely given the different distribution, flight season, and disjunct pattern of herminioides versus aemula), and might have been omitted from Covell’s (1999) check list for this reason.  The single somewhat worn specimen of the Apamea species is especially odd, and in HLK’s judgment may constitute a new species.

            Three of the species we recorded from KCSP had only a single Kentucky record given in Covell (1999), including: Zanclognatha martha, Macrochilo orciferalis, and Bleptina sangamonia.  As noted in Kons and Borth (2006), there is some uncertainty regarding the application of the name sangamonia; we are applying this name to the species illustrated as sangamonia in Rings et al. (1992) but the male genitalia of this species do not match the genitalic illustration for sangamonia in Forbes (1948).  Covell (1999) did not give any Kentucky records for Renia factiosalis other than a reference that it had been listed from Kentucky in Crumb (1956).  In our experience this species is very local in northern FL (recorded from one locality among our survey sites included in Kons and Borth (2006)), but it is more widespread in Wisconsin. 

            We recorded many additional species that may be poorly known in Kentucky, based on these species being referred to “rare,” “uncommon,” “uncommon to rare,” or “local and uncommon” in Covell (1999).  These species include: Itame subcessaria, Semiothisa minorata, Guernaria similaria, Probole nepiasaria, Caripeta aretaria, Xanthorhoe labradorensis, Eupithecia fletcherata, Eupithecia affinata, Ceratomia amyntor, Poanias astylus, Darapsa versicolor, Xylophanes tersa, Dasychira dorsipennata, Redectes vitrea, Hypena appalachiensis, Zale squamularis, Catocala sappho, Catocala ulalume, Catocala sordida, Catocala blandula, Nola cilicoides, Abrostola ovalis, Callopistria cordata, Pyrrhia exprimens, Panthea acronyctoides, Panthea furcilla, Acronicta innotata, Acronicta tritona, Acronicta superans, Acronicta clarescens, Acronicta hamamelis, Cucullia convexipennis, Archanara oblonga, Papaipema maritima, Bellura densa, Elaphria chalcedonia, Lacanobia subjuncta, Diarsia rubifera, Diarsia jucunda, Xestia smithii, Lycophota phyllophora, and Feltia tricosa.

            However, the majority of species we recorded from Kingdom Come State Park could reasonably be hypothesized to be common and widespread in Kentucky, based on what is reported in Covell (1999).  This is consistent with our overall collecting experience in eastern North America.  For example, among our north Florida survey localities, 68.5% to 95% of the Macrolepidoptera species recorded from individual sites are hypothesized to be widespread generalists, while only 50% of the Macrolepidoptera species we have recorded from northern Florida overall could be hypothesized to be generalists from our data set (Kons and Borth 2006).

            There are a handfull of Macrolepidoptera species potentially endemic to the Appalachian Mountains.  We recorded two of these species from KCSP, including Crambidia species near cephalica and Hypena appalachiensis.  The other potentially Appalachian endemic species we recorded from our surveys elsewhere in the Appalachians were found only at higher elevations within the Canadian Life Zone. 

            The climate of the park appears to be characteristic of the Upper Austral Life Zone, with a much more southern affiliated Lepidoptera fauna than that which occurs in the Transition Life Zone at low elevations in Wisconsin.  The crest of Big Black Mountain in Harlan County reaches over 4,000’, and has a Transition Life Zone climate and a much more northern Lepidoptera fauna relative to KCSP.  We conducted more limited survey work in this area at the same times of year we visited KCSP, and recorded numerous northern species which we did not find in KCSP.  In contrast to KCSP, all but a few of the species we recorded near the summit of Big Black Mountain are species we have also collected in the Transition Life Zone of Wisconsin.  Overall we recorded far more species at KCSP, but this means little as we had more favorable weather for our KCSP surveys and we also put more effort into nocturnal surveying at KCSP.

            The following figure shows the number of Macrolepidoptera species we recorded from KCSP for each individual survey night and each individual survey station on each individual night:


KCSP Night Total Fig


            The nightly totals for MV sheets include the highest values we have ever recorded from our surveys in eastern North America to date.  We published two similar charts for 44 all night surveys in northern Florida in Kons and Borth (2006), pages 226 and 228.  Among these surveys, covering a range of different dates and habitat types, the highest nightly Macrolepidoptera species total for a MV sheet was 209 species on 20 May 1999 at Aspalaga Road in Gadsden County (Kons and Borth 2006).  This road changes from hydric hardwood forest to xeric oak-pine uplands over less than one mile, thus several habitat types occur in close proximity.  The high nightly species totals we recorded from KCSP are certainly not related to optimal weather conditions, as the nightly lows were 56-66ºF.  Optimal collecting conditions typically occur when lows are in the 70sºF.  However, the high MV Sheet species counts may not be due to unusually high species diversity at KCSP either.  The UV Trap totals for three of the trap sites are not unusually high based on our collecting experiences in Wisconsin, northern Florida, Eastern Texas, and some mid latitude eastern U.S. localities.  The aforementioned Tables in Kons and Borth (2006) give numerous examples where UV traps obtained Macrolepidoptera species totals which equal or exceed the totals recorded from trap sites 1, 2, and 4.  Trap site 3, with nightly Macrolepidoptera species counts in the low 70s, has above average but not unusually high values.

            We suspect the most important factor in the especially high nightly MV sheet species counts was the topology of our sheet site.  Time and time again we have observed that sheets or light traps located on overlooks or along trails or power line cuts outperform comparable survey stations located in the middle of the woods.  Our KCSP sheet site at Halcomb overlook was unusual in having both of these factors: an overlook plus a power line cut going down the side of the mountain.  Our first survey night at KCSP we had initially set up a second sheet along a trail without an overlook, but when we checked it about one hour after dark it had what we’d estimate to be less than one tenth the number of moths as at the Halcomb overlook site, granted this sheet also had a 250 watt MV light rather than a 400 watt light.  We decided to take this sheet down because it was clear that attempting to document all of the species at the Halcomb overlook sheet would leave little time for having a second sheet site.  Our trap site 4 that had an especially poor species count was also located on an overlook.  However, this overlook was much steeper, with a long distance between the light and the vegetation below the overlook, and probably too great of a distance to attract moths with a 15 watt UV light. 

            We encountered very few species or individual moths at our bait traps or bait trails, consistent with our overall experience collecting in the Appalachians during the summer of 2002.  We have found that the effectiveness of bait is highly variable spatially and temporally within the same locality.  As we have noted in Kons (2001) and Kons and Borth (2006), factors other than the relative abundance of moths appear to dramatically affect the effectiveness of bait as a survey tool.  When bait is working well, it can add considerably to nightly species totals as some species come much more readily to bait (when it is attracting many moths) than lights (Kons and Borth 2006).  Some of the species found in numbers at the MV sheet at Halcomb overlook are species we have found infrequently come to lights at other localities where we have found numerous individuals with bait or the tapping technique.  However, almost all of the species we have ever collected at bait have also been attracted to lights on some occasions.  The reverse is not true; many species which are attracted to lights in our experience never come to bait, and there are a number of Macrolepidoptera species which do not feed as adults.

            Analyzing biodiversity blitz survey data from many localities, we have found that a consistent repeating pattern for a given survey data set is that more species are recorded from one unique species record than any other number of unique species records, and that there is a general pattern of decreasing numbers of species recorded from larger numbers of unique species records.  The pattern obtained from analyzing our six nights of Kingdom Come survey data is shown below.  Over the six survey nights, 99 of the Macrolepidoptera species were recorded from only one survey station on only one survey date (one unique species record), and 65 of the Macrolepidoptera species were recorded from only two unique species records, etc.  For light lures (MV sheet samples and UV trap samples) there are a maximum of 14 unique species records.  There are eight possible unique species records from bait lures; however, since bait attracted so few moths during our KCSP surveys the influence of bait collecting was minimal. 





When the data is analyzed to determine what percentage of the Macrolepidoptera species were recorded from n or fewer unique species records over the six survey dates, the following pattern is obtained:


n or fewer USR


            Such patterns may not tell much when only a single survey data set is examined, but they can be more interesting when comparing survey data sets for different localities.  The percentage of species recorded from n or fewer unique species records decreases as more survey data is added for a locality (and as a higher portion of the species which could potentially be found at a locality within a time interval is recorded).  HLK has produced a model which can estimate what proportion of the potential species were actually recorded within a locality during a time interval, if one has data on what percentage of the species were recorded from n or fewer unique species records.  This model has not yet been published, but will be published in an upcoming NAJLB volume.


Acknowledgments:  We thank Rick Fuller and the staff of Kingdom Come State Park for their cooperation and encouragement of our research within the park.  In addition, Rick Fuller showed us two drawers of specimens previously taken at Kingdom Come State Park, and provided us access to a building where we could recharge our batteries used for running light traps.  We are grateful to Carey Tichenor, State Naturalist for the Kentucky Dept. of Parks, who provided us with a scientific collecting permit for Kentucky State Parks.  Kingdom Come State Park was originally recommended to RJB in 1985 by Loran D. Gibson.  By sharing his directions and insights into Kentucky Lepidoptera Loran was invaluable to the success of this survey.  John Hyatt provided additional advice on both this and the nearby Big Black Mountain sites.

David Wahl and the American Entomological Institute provided valuable infrastructural support, as well as a flexible work schedule for HLK.  Hugo & Sharon Kons, Sr. assisted with building light and bait traps and provided other support.  George Balogh determined our Eupithecia specimens other than E. miserulata.  Several people assisted with acquiring chemicals important to our research, including Niklaus Hostettler, Jim Lloyd, and Robert Robbins. 





Covell, Charles V.  1999.  The butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of Kentucky.  Kentucky State Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series Number 6.

Hodges, Ronald W. et al.  1983.  Check List of the Lepidoptera of America North of Mexico.  Great Britian, University Press, Cambridge.

Kons, Hugo L. Jr.  2001.  Contributions Toward a Lepidoptera (Psychidae, Yponomeutidae, Sesiidae, Cossidae, Zygaenoidea, Thyrididae, Drepanoidea, Geometroidea, Mimalonoidea, Bombycoidea, Sphingoidea, & Noctuoidea) Biodiversity Inventory of the University of Florida Natural Area Teaching Lab.

Kons, Hugo L. Jr. and Robert J. Borth.  2006.  Contributions to a study of the diversity, distribution, habitat association, and phenology of the Lepidoptera of Northern Florida.  North American Journal of Lepidoptera Biodiversity.  Volume I: 1-231.

Kons, Hugo L. Jr. and Robert J. Borth.  2007.  Lepidoptera Survey Methods Utilized in North American Journal of Lepidoptera Biodiversity Publications.

Rings, Roy W., Eric H. Metzler, Fred J. Arnold, and David H. Harris.  1992.  The Owlet Moths of Ohio.  Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University.