North American Lepidoptera Biodiversity LLC


Check List of the Lepidoptera Recorded from Tombigbee State Park (Lee County, Mississippi) in Mid July 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 Tombigbee 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 the detailed Lepidoptera biodiversity inventory data obtained from two survey dates at Tombigbee State Park in mid July of 2002.  We present 295 unique species records for 190 species, including 179 species of Macrolepidoptera.


Introduction:  Tombigbee State Park is located in Lee County, Mississippi.  The predominant habitat types in the park are mesic hardwood forest and xeric oak-pine forest.  Carya (hickories) are common in the mesic hardwood forest habitats.  We found some small areas of wetland in the park, including a small sedge meadow.  There are ravines with small streams.   The sides of the ravines are forested slopes with mesic hardwood forest, except for the aforementioned sedge meadow.  A lake is present with some cypress growing along the edge.  Arundinaria (cane) occurs in some of the mesic hardwood forest habitat, especially along the ravines.  Other Lepidopterists have previously visited Tombigbee State Park, but to our knowledge species lists have not yet been published from their work.


Methods:  Our surveys were conducted with MV sheets, UV traps, a bait trail, tapping trees, 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 conditions when surveys were conducted.  At each survey station on each survey date we attempted to document all species encountered in the included families.  HLK stayed up all night each night monitoring the MV sheet and bait trail.


TBB Night


The temperature the night of 14 July 2002 ranged from 75-72°F, and the moon was 18% illuminated.  On 16 July 2002 the temperature ranged from 80-75ºF, with the moon 39% illuminated.





Voucher Specimens:  At least one voucher specimen substantiates all unique species records.  A unique species record 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.


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 Tombigbee State Park.  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 Tombigbee State Park surveys, and gives the total number of species recorded in each category, including 190 species recorded from all of the included families and 179 species of Macrolepidoptera.  The table includes 295 unique species records.  Numbers to the left of the species names correspond to the Hodges et al. (1983) check list, and serve as a citation for the author and date of description for each species included in that publication.












Discussion:  Tombigbee State Park has a diverse fauna for hickory associated Catocala species.  When we were conducting our surveys few individuals of these species came to lights and none came to bait.  However, many individuals were found on tree trunks with the tapping method.  Euparthenos nubilis was also found by this method, and exhibited a behavior of flying between tree trunks similar to Catocala species.  Collecting voucher specimens of the diurnally active Catocala proved difficult at Tombigbee State Park at the time we were there.  Most individuals were very wary and difficult to approach, and often flew long distances when disturbed.  Also, many individuals were landing high in the trees out of reach of our nets.  Furthermore, the ravine area was often difficult to navigate due to many vines with large thorns, dense understory vegetation, and/or steep and uneven ground.  Under the hot and sunny conditions when we were tapping, individuals of the diurnally active Catocala were concentrated in hardwood forest habitat in low lying areas (especially along the ravine), and few individuals were seen in the more upland areas.

            Most of the species we recorded from Tombigbee State Park, other than the hickory associated Catocala, are probably widespread habitat generalists.  We hypothesize this based on the north Florida habitat data and analysis presented in Kons and Borth (2006).  Our experience collecting in eastern Texas suggests habitat dependency of Lepidoptera species in northern Florida and eastern Texas is probably quite similar, so we would extrapolate that this applies to Mississippi as well, at least regarding habitat types that also occur in Florida. 

            The following species we recorded from Tombigbee State Park are potentially dependent on hardwood forest habitats: Callosamia angulifera, Catocala piatrix, C. epione, C. flebilis, C. angusi, C. obscura, C. ulalume, C. dejecta, C. insolabilis, C. vidua, C. maestosa, and C. lacrymosa.  All of these species are reported to utilize Carya as a larval host (Covell 1984, Rings et al. 1992) except for Callosamia angulifera, which utilizes Liriodendron tulipifera (Tuskes et al. 1986).  One potentially wetland dependent species was found, Cutina distincta, which is potentially dependent on cypress habitats (Kons and Borth 2006).  This species is widespread in cypress habitats in Florida and Texas, and probably in Mississippi as well.  Two species were recorded from single specimens that we would not have expected in Tombigbee State Park habitats.  We usually only find Hyparpax aurora and Cisthene unifascia in xeric habitats that are at least partially open (such as prairies, oak savannas, or barrens), but we do also have one Florida specimen of H. aurora from hardwood forest habitat (Jackson County).

            A few species were recorded from our surveys which are poorly known in our experience.  Perhaps the most notable find was Oxycilla malaca.  Among our surveys we have found this species only at Tombigbee State Park and Atlanta State Park in Cass County, Texas.  We do not know why this species is so seldom encountered.  Grammia figurata is also a notable find in eastern North America in our experience, although we have no data to suggest this species is very particular in habitat.  Our scattered records are from a variety of different habitat types, including old field in Indiana.

            The mid summer flight date of the record of Acronicta noctivaga is interesting.  In both Wisconsin and Florida this species is univoltine and flies earlier in the season before any Catocala adults are present.

            There does not appear to be a steep gradient of change in the Macrolepidoptera fauna between the latitude of Lee County Mississippi and the Florida panhandle, at least with respect to the habitat types and time of year where/when we conducted our Tombigbee State Park surveys.  Approximately 90.4% of the Macrolepidoptera species we recorded at Tombigbee State Park are species for which we have also collected or examined specimens from northern Florida (see check list in Kons and Borth (2006)).  However, several of the hickory associated Catocala we found at Tombigbee State Park may not range as far south as northern Florida, including: Catocala flebilis, C. angusi, and C. obscura. 

            Our rotting fruit bait hardly attracted any Lepidoptera during our Tombigbee State Park surveys.  The first night our bait attracted zero individuals, and on the second night it only attracted two individuals and species.  The effectiveness of this bait is highly variable spatially and temporally, and bait is often poorly effective during the mid summer (rainy season) in northern Florida (Kons and Borth 2006).  When bait is working well it can attract many Catocala individuals and species.  Kons and Borth (2006) reported that the variation in bait effectiveness often does not appear to be related to the abundance of Lepidoptera. 

            Our species counts for our Tombigbee State Park MV sheet and UV trap samples were not particularly high.  Our MV sheet was located right near an area where many Catocala were seen during the day, but very few individuals came to the lights at night.  One of our UV traps did surprisingly poor.  It was located in an area which appeared to have very good habitat upslope from a ravine with mesic hardwood forest and cane.  We have often done quite well trapping in this type of habitat in northern Florida (although primarily earlier in the season), but we were baffled that this trap only collected eight species of Macrolepidoptera.  Our other UV trap, also located in mesic hardwood forest, did much better and collected 54 species of Macrolepidoptera.

            A substantial portion of the Lepidoptera species which were present at the time our surveys were conducted may not have been documented by our surveys, as inferred by an analysis of the portion of species we recorded from n or fewer unique species records.  Our analyses of biodiversity blitz data sets from localities where we conducted intensive collecting over five or more consecutive days suggests that the percentages of species recorded from n or fewer unique species records decrease in relation to an increase in the proportion of the species present which have been documented.  This is based on survey data derived from an attempt to document each species encountered at each survey station on each survey date. 

            The below figure shows the percentages of Macrolepidoptera species recorded from n or fewer unique species records among our Tombigbee State Park surveys.  There are six possible unique species records for nocturnal species (2 MV sheet samples, two
UV trap samples, and two bait trail samples), and two possible unique species records for diurnal species.  The bait trail samples have little bearing on the analysis as our bait only attracted two individual moths over two nights.  Over half of the Macrolepidoptera species we recorded (58.4%) were recorded from only one unique species record, and 85.8% of the species were recorded from only one or two unique species records.  In upcoming NAJLB volumes will elaborate more on the potential of this type of data for predicting what proportion of the possible species were actually recorded.  Compare the below figure to comparable figures we show in our on-line Kingdom Come State Park report, where we hypothesize we did a much more thorough job documenting the species present at the time of our surveys.


TBB Chart


Acknowledgments:  Richard Brown of the Mississippi State University was extremely helpful with our survey work in Mississippi.  He enlisted us research associates of the Mississippi Entomological Museum, providing us with authorization to conduct Lepidoptera surveys in Mississippi State Parks.   He also hosted us for a visit to the Mississippi State University Lepidoptera collection (an outstanding Lepidoptera collection for Mississippi and surrounding areas), provided us with distributional and phenology data for Mississippi Lepidoptera, and took us to collect at several private properties in Mississippi.  We thank the staff of Tombigbee State Park for their courtesy and cooperation with our research.  The senior author also thanks David Wahl and the American Entomological Institute for infrastructural support and a flexible work schedule.  Hugo & Sharon Kons, Sr. assisted with building light and bait traps and provided other support.  Several people assisted with acquiring chemicals important to our research, including Niklaus Hostettler, Jim Lloyd, and Robert Robbins. 





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

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