Dr. Marc E. Epstein

Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food & Agriculture
3294 Meadowview Road, Sacramento, CA 95832-1448, U.S.A.
Office: 916-738-6675
Fax: 916-262-1190
Email: marc.epstein@cdfa.ca.gov

Marc Epstein

Senior Insect Biosystematist

Curriculum Vitae


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Entomology) - University of Minnesota, St. Paul, March 1988.  Dissertation title: “An overview of slug caterpillar moths (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae) with emphasis on genera in the New World Parasa Group”
  • Master of Science (Entomology) - University of Minnesota, St. Paul, August 1982. Thesis title: “Habitat and seasonal comparisons of ground beetles (Carabidae)”
  • Bachelor of Science (Entomology & Zoology) - Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, May 1977.

Research and Employment

  • 2005-Present—Senior Insect Biosystematist, CDFA; 2003-2005--Associate Insect Biosystematist, CDFA: identification of Lepidoptera immatures and adults of potential economic importance; research on Lepidoptera, including Limacodidae and other families of economic concern.
    • Current projects: diagnostics of Lobesia botrana; Revision of African and Australian genera of Limacodidae; Limacodidae of Costa Rica (with D. Janzen and INBio); Zygaenoidea TWG leader (Lepidoptera ATOL); ecology of limacodid caterpillars (with John Lill); 25 year comparison of carabid beetles in south-central Minnesota (with Kamal Gandhi); Lepidoptera subject editor, Pan-Pacific Entomology.
  • 2006-present--Affiliate, Dept. of Entomology, U.C. Davis.
  • 2003-present—Research Associate, Dept. of Entomology, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution.
  • 1997-2003--Museum Specialist and Unit Manager, Smithsonian Institution (includes Lepidoptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera and Arachnida);
  • (1997-2002) supervised five people in collection management; research on Lepidoptera includes publications on Zygaenoidea (Handbook of Zoology), Costa Rican Limacodidae, evolution of larval locomotion and biology of Dalceridae; acquisition of Peck, Robert, Reichert, Kinyon and Fales collections  (@ 100,000 specimens).
  • 1992-1996 Museum Specialist, Smithsonian Institution; collection management and curation of Heteroptera;  research on Lepidoptera, including completion of "Revision and Phylogeny of the Limacodid-Group Families, with Evolutionary Studies on Slug Caterpillars (Lepidoptera: Zygaenoidea)" and preparation of “A Guide to the Limacodidae of Costa Rica;” sorting Lepidoptera to families at the Museum Support Center.
  • 1988-1991 Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution; phylogenetics of limacodid group families (Lepidoptera) using morphological characters from both immature and adult stages; evolution and functional morphology of locomotion, cocoon construction and other behaviors; ontogeny of immature stages in the phylogeny of the limacodid group and ditrysian Lepidoptera; researched the identity of over 300 species for the “The Atlas of Neotropical Limacodidae"; led three expeditions to the Llanos of Venezuela and visited Pakitza, Peru with the BIOLAT program.
  • 1990 (3 mos.) Research Associate, University of Maryland, Center for Agricultural Biotechnology; development of the chorion in ditrysian Lepidoptera.
  • 1987 (5 mos.) APHIS (USDA), Minnesota Exotic Pest Survey: monitered for species of exotic Lepidoptera with pheromone traps, identified non target species related to or similar to exotics (Noctuoidea & Tortricoidea).
  • 1984 (2 mos.) Smithsonian Institution; expedition to New Caledonia: collected and prepared several thousand Lepidoptera from UV and malaise traps.
  • 1983 (6 mos.) University of Minnesota Extension Entomology: monitered populations of ash borers (Lepid.: Sesiidae) and pesticide trials on hackberry galls (Homoptera: Psyllidae) with M. E. Ascerno.
  • 1982-83 Research Assistant, University of Minnesota: a study on coincident population fluctuations in Lepidoptera with W. E. Miller. Funded by Can. & U.S. Spruce Budworm Program.
  • 1980-82 University of Minnesota: M.S. research on carabid ecology, supervised three work study students in sorting and preparation of specimens.
  • 1978 (6 mos.) Research Entomologist, Colorado Natural Areas Program (Dept. of Natural Resources): surveyed threatened butterfly and lampyrid species.
  • 1972-78 Denver Museum of Natural History: curated Mason Butterfly Collection, collected and prepared Colorado butterflies; butterfly phenology.

Refereed Publications

  1. Epstein, M.E. 2016. Moths, Myths, & Mosquitoes: The Eccentric Life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr. Oxford University Press, 360 pages.
  2. Zaspel, J., S.J. Weller. 2015. Origin of the hungry caterpillar: Evolution of fasting in slug moths (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Limacodidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 94: 827–832.
  3. Epstein, M.E., W.D. Duckworth, W. Taft, and T. Seeno. 2015. Thomas Drake Eichlin (1938–2013). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 69(3): 238–240.
  4. Epstein, M.E., S.J. Weller, R.D. Moon, W.D. Hutchinson, W.J. Mattson, I.V. MacRae, and T.M. Gilligan. 2013. William E. Miller (1930-2013). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 67(3): 234-239.
  5. Kaila, L., M. E. Epstein, M. Heikkila, and M. Mutanen. 2013. The assignment of Prodidactidae to Hyblaeoidea, with remarks on Thyridoidea (Lepidoptera) ISSN 1175-5326 (print edition) ISSN 1175-5334 (online edition) Zootaxa 3682 (3): 485–494.
  6. Gilligan, T.M. and M.E. Epstein. 2012. TortAI: Tortricids of Agricultural Importance to the United States (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Identification Technology Program (ITP), USDA/APHIS/PPQ/CPHST, Fort Collins, CO. CD-ROM.
  7. Nieukerken, Erik J. van, L. Kaila, I.J. Kitching, N.P. Kristensen, D.C. Lees, J. Minet, C. Mitter, M. Mutanen, J.C. Regier, T.J. Simonsen, N. Wahlberg, S.-H.Yen, R. Zahiri, D. Adamski, J. Baixeras, D. Bartsch, B.Å. Bengtsson, J.W. Brown, S.R. Bucheli, D.R. Davis, J. De Prins, W. De Prins, M.E. Epstein, P. Gentili-Poole, C. Gielis, P. Hättenschwiler, A. Hausmann, J.D. Holloway, A. Kallies, O. Karsholt, A.Y. Kawahara, S. (J.C.) Koster, M.V. Kozlov, J.D. Lafontaine, G. Lamas, J-F. Landry, S. Lee, M. Nuss, K-T. Park, C. Penz, J. Rota, A. Schintlmeister, B.C. Schmidt, J.-C. Sohn, M.A. Solis, G.M. Tarmann, A.D. Warren, S. Weller, R.V. Yakovlev, V.V. Zolotuhin, A. Zwick. 2011. Order Lepidoptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness. Zootaxa 3148: 212–221.
  8. Gandhi, K.J.K., M.E. Epstein, J. J. Koehle, and F. F. Purrington. 2011. A quarter of a century turnover of beetle assemblages in remnant habitats within urban areas in central Minnesota. ZooKeys. 147: 667–689.
  9. Murphy, S.T., J.T. Lill, and M.E. Epstein. 2011. Natural history of limacodid moths (Zygaenoidea) in the environs of Washington, D.C. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 65(3): 137–152
  10. Gilligan, T.L., M.E. Epstein, and K.M. Hoffman. 2011. Discovery of false codling moth, Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick), in California (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. Proc. Ent. Soc. Wash. 113(4): 426-435.
  11. Barr, N.B., R.A. Ledezma, R.E. Farris, M.E. Epstein, and T.M. Gilligan. 2011. A multiplex real-time PCR assay to diagnose the light brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker)(Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Economic Entomology. J Econ Entomol. 104(5):1706-19.
  12. Gilligan, T.M., M.E. Epstein, S.C. Passoa, J.A. Powell, and J.W. Brown. 2011. Discovery of Lobesia botrana [(Denis & Schiffermuller)] in California: an invasive species new to North America (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington.  113(1): 14-30.
  13. Brown, J.W., M.E. Epstein, T.M. Gilligan, S.C. Passoa, and J.A. Powell. 2010. Biology, identification, and history of the light brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae: Archipini) in California.  American Entomologist 56(1): 34-43.
  14. Epstein, M.E. and J.K. Adams. 2009.   Zygaenoidea  (pp. 160-165) in Moths of Western North America by J.A. Powell and P. A. Opler. U.C. Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles & London, 369 p.
  15. Barr, N. B.,  L. A. Ledezma, J. D. Vasquez, M. Epstein, P. H. Kerr,  S. Kinnee, O. Sage, and T. M. Gilligan.  2009.  Molecular Identification of the Light Brown Apple Moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in California Using a Polymerase Chain Reaction Assay of the Internal Transcribed Spacer 2 Locus. J. Econ. Entomol. 102(6): 2333-2342.
  16. Regier, J. C., A. Zwick, M. P. Cummings, A. Y. Kawahara, S. Cho, S. Weller, A. R., J. Baixeras, J. W. Brown, C. Parr, D. R. Davis, M. Epstein, W. Hallwachs, A. Hausmann, D.H. Janzen, I. J. Kitching, M. A. Solis, Shen-Horn Yen, A. L. Bazinet and C. Mitter. 2009.  Toward reconstructing the evolution of advanced moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera: Ditrysia): an initial molecular study. BioMed Central  Evolutionary Biology 2009, 9:280 (21 pp).
  17. Gilligan, T.M. and M.E. Epstein. 2009. LBAM ID: Tools for diagnosing light brown apple moth and related western U.S. leafrollers (Tortricidae: Archipini) [CD-ROM]. USDA-APHIS.
  18. Janzen, D. H., W. Hallwachs, P. Blandin, J. M. Burns, J.-M. Cadiou, I. Chacon, T. Dapkey, A. R. Deans, M. E. Epstein, B. Espinoza, J. G. Franclemont, W. A. Haber, M. Hajibabaei, J.P.W. Hall, P.D.N. Hebert, I.D. Gauld, D.J. Harvey, A. Hausmann, I.J. Kitching, D. LaFontaine, J.F-Landry, C. Lemaire, J.Y. Miller, J. S. Miller, L. Miller, S.E. Miller, J. Montero, E. Munroe, S. R. Green, S. Ratnasingham, J. E. Rawlins, R. K. Robbins, J. J. Rodriguez, R. Rougerie, M. J. Sharkey, M. A. Smith, M. A. Solis, J. B. Sullivan, P. Thiaucourt, D.B. Wahl, S.J. Weller, J. B. Whitfield, K. R. Willmott, D. M. Wood, N. E. Woodley & J. J. Wilson. 2009. Integration of DNA barcoding into an ongoing inventory of tropical complex biodiversity. Molecular Ecology Resources 9 (supplement 1): 1-26. (pdf)
  19. Brown, J.W., M.E. Epstein, K. Vann, R.A.Watkins, S.M. Bahr, II, and E. Kolski. 2008. An overview of the Lepidoptera (Insecta) of Plummers Island, Maryland.  Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington. 15: 65-74.
  20. Nagamine, W. & M.E. Epstein. 2007. The chronicles of Darna pallivitta (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae): biology and larval morphology of a new pest in Hawaii. Pan-Pacific Entomologist. 83(2): 16 pp.
  21. Stüning, D., U. Buchsbaum, & M.E. Epstein. 2006. Amerikanische Limacodidae in Deutschland. Entomologische Zeitschrift – Stuttgart. 116(3): 135-138.
  22. Epstein, M.E. & J.F. Corrales. 2004. Twenty-five new species of Costa Rican Limacodidae (Lepidoptera: Zygaenoidea). Zootaxa. 701: 1-86.
  23. Brown, J.W., M.E. Epstein, & E.R. Day. 2004. First report of Pryeria sinica Moore (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae) in North America. Proc. Ent. Soc. Washington. 106:239-242.
  24. Corrales, J.F. & M.E. Epstein. 2003. Revision of the Natada fusca complex and description of six new Neotropical species (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae). Rev. Biol. Trop. 51:445-462.
  25. Scheer, J., M. Epstein, & J. Drucker. 2003. Night Visions: The Secret Designs of Moths. Prestel Verlag. Munich. 119 pages.
  26. Epstein, M.E. & J.W. Brown. 2003. The early stages of the enigmatic Prodidactis mystica (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Prodidactidae) with comments on its new familial assignment. Zootaxa. 247:1-16.
  27. Epstein, M.E. 2002. Review of “Forest Moths,” by K.A. Efetov and G.M. Tarmann, Apollo Books. J. Lep. Soc.
  28. Deml, R. & M.E. Epstein. 2001. Hydroquinone and other secondary compounds in hairs of fire caterpillars (Lepidoptera: Zygaenoidea: Megalopygidae). Entomologia generalis. 25(2): 131-134.
  29. Deml, R. & M.E. Epstein. 2001. Illustration of a caterpillar of Megalopyginae (Lepidoptera: Megalopygidae) whose hairs contain antiseptic compounds. Nachr. Entomolo. Ver. Apollo, N.F. 22 (3): 187-189.
  30. Corrales, J.F. & M.E. Epstein. 2000. New species in the New World Natada complex (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae). Rev. Biol. Trop. 48:591-604.
  31. Epstein, M.E., Geertsema, H., Naumann, C.M. & G.M. Tarmann. 1998. The Zygaenoidea, pp 159-180, In Handbuch der Zoologie, a Natural History of the Phyla of the Animal Kingdom, Vol. IV, Arthropoda: Insecta, Part 35, Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies, Vol. 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography, ed. Niels P. Kristensen. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and New York.
  32. Nelson, S.M. & M.E. Epstein. 1998. Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Superfamilies Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea) of Roxborough State Park, Colorado: baseline inventory, community attributes, and monitoring plan. Environmental Mgt. 22:287-295.
  33. Epstein, M.E. 1997. Biology of Dalcerides ingenita (Hy. Edwards)(Lepidoptera: Dalceridae). Tropical Lepidoptera, 8:48-59. 1997.
  34. Epstein, M.E. Parasa indetermina (Boisduval)(Lepidoptera: Limacodidae): a new host for Systropus macer Loew (Diptera: Bombyliidae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 99:585-586.. 1995 (1997).
  35. Epstein, M.E. 1995 [1997] Locomotion and its evolution in caterpillars with a slug-like ventrum (The Limacodid Group: Zygaenoidea). J. Res. Lep. 34:14-20.
  36. Corrales, J.F. & M.E. Epstein. 1997. Review of Costa Rican Venadicodia Dyar, with descriptions of two new species and localities for V. ruthea Dyar (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae). Rev. Biologia Tropical. 45:1093-1105.
  37. Epstein, M.E. 1996. Revision and phylogeny of the limacodid group families, with evolutionary studies on slug caterpillars (Lepidoptera: Zygaenoidea) Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. Number 582, 102 pages, 409 figures.
  38. Epstein, M.E. 1996. A new name and generic placement for the misidentified type species of Epiclea Dyar, 1905 (Lepidopetera, Limacodidae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 98:812-817.
  39. Epstein, M.E. 1995. False parasitized cocoons and the biology of Aididae (Lepidoptera: Zygaenoidea). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 97:750 756.
  40. Becker, V. O. & M. E. Epstein. 1995. Limacodidae. in J. B. Heppner (ed.), The Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera. Checklist: Part II. 3:128 133.
  41. Epstein, M.E., Smedley, S., and T. Eisner. 1994. Sticky integumental coating of a dalcerid caterpillar: a deterrent to ants. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 48:381 386.
  42. Epstein, M. E. & V. O. Becker. 1994. Combinations and Synonymies in NewWorld Limacodidae, Megalopygidae, Lasiocampidae and Arctiidae (Lepidoptera). Revista brasileira de Zoologia. 10:289 319. (1993)
  43. Epstein, M. E. & P. M. Henson. 1992. Digging for Dyar (1866 1929): the Man Behind the Myth. American Entomologist. 38:148 169.
  44. Epstein, M. E. & S.E. Miller. 1990. Systematics of the West Indian moth genus Heuretes (Lepidoptera:Limacodidae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 92:705 715.
  45. Epstein, M. E. & H. M. Kulman. 1990. Ecological and seasonal distribution of carabid beetles in east central Minnesota. Amer. Midl. Nat. 123:209 225.
  46. Epstein, M.E. 1989. Review of “Slug and Nettle Caterpillars: the Biology, Taxonomy and Control of the Limacodidae of Economic Importance on Palms in South east Asia,” edited by M. J. W. Cock et al., CAB. J. Lep. Soc. 43:252 253.
  47. Scott, J. A. & M. E. Epstein. 1987. Factors affecting phenology in a temperate insect community. Amer. Midl. Nat. 117:103 118.
  48. Epstein, M. E. 1987. Mating behavior of Acraea andromacha andromacha (Fabricius) (Nymphalidae) in New Caledonia. J. Lep. Soc. 41:119 121.
  49. Miller, W. E. & M. E. Epstein. 1985. Synchronous population fluctuations among moth species. Environ. Entomol. 15:443 447.
  50. Epstein, M. E. & H. M. Kulman. 1984. Effects of aprons on pitfall trap catches of carabid beetles in forests and fields. Great Lakes Entomol. 17:215 221.

Grants & Awards

NSF as biosystematist collaborator

  • Ecology of limacodid caterpillars, 2007-2011
  • Lepidoptera Tree of Life (Twig coordinator for Zygaenoidea), 2006-2010
  • Ecuador Project – BSI (Biotic Systems & Inventories (L. Dyer, PI), 2005-2009
  • ACG Project – BSI (D.H. Janzen, PI), Santa Rosa, Costa Rica, 1990’s--
  • ALAS Project – BSI (J. Longino, PI), La Selva, Costa Rica, 2000-2005


  • CPHST (USDA), Lucid key development for light brown apple moth (2008-)

Smithsonian Institution

  • Scholarly Leadership Program (1996)
  • Cash Awards for Job Performance Excellence (1996-2000)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (1990-1991)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Sept. 1988-89), Short term Visitor’s Program (1985)

University of Maryland, College Park, Center for Agricultural Biotechnology

  • Postdoctoral Fellow (summer 1990)
  • University of Minnesota Graduate School, Doctoral Dissertation Special Grant (1986):
  • 10 week visit to Smithsonian Institution, Anderson Fellowship (1986):
  • 5 week visit to British Museum of Natural History, Dayton Natural History Fellowship (1985)
  • Society of Sigma Xi, Grant in aid of Research (1985)


  • Rockefeller Foundation Grant, Alfred University (2001-2003)


  • 2015–National Pest Detection Network Workshop on European Grapevine Moth, Napa Valley, CA
  • 2013–Lecture at Chico State University
  • 2012–Lucid workshop on TortAi. L.A. County Dept. Ag. May 17, 2012
  • 2012, 2014–My career as a Lepidopterist. NJHS, Western Hills, California. May 16, 2012
  • 2009-2015—Numerous workshops on identification of invasive tortricids in California.
  • 2008– Entomological Society of America: Visual morphological identifications of the light brown apple moth and other Tortricidae in California (with Todd Gilligan).
  • 2006 – Entomological Society of America: Limacodidae on the ALAS transect, ALAS Symposium and (with Shen-Horn Yen) Genitalia Homology of Zygaenoidea, Lepidoptera Tree of Life Symposium
  • 2005 -- Slug Caterpillars of Costa Rica and Beyond. Plant Pest Diagnostics Seminar series, Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture, University of Hawaii, Manoa
  • 2003-2004 -- ACG Limacodid Caterpillars: Clades and Accumulation Curves. ACG caterpillar workshop (Santa Rosa, Costa Rica), Pacific Coast Entomology Club (California Academy of Science).
  • 1999-2003 -- Video on Caterpillar Ontogeny and Behavior of the Limacodid-Group Families (Zygaenoidea). North Carolina Entomological Society Banquet, Washington Area Butterfly Club, Entomological Society of America, Atlanta, Georgia and Lepidopterists' Society, Wake Forest University, North Carolina.
  • 1999 -- “Phylogeny, Homology and Biology of Jelly Caterpillars (Zygaenoidea: Dalceridae).” Maryland Entomology Society, Lepidopteras’ Society, Sierra Vista, Arizona.
  • 1997 -- “Parasa Moore: About Names and New Species of Limacodidae.” Annual meeting of the Lepidopterists’ Society, New Haven, CT.
  • 1996 -- “Recent Advances in the Zygaenoidea” (with H. Geertsema, S. Miller, C. Naumann, and A. Zilli) and “History of Entomology at the Smithsonian: 1900-present.” International Congress of Entomology, Florence Italy.
  • 1995 “Evolution of Larval Locomotion in the Limacodid Group.” Annual meeting of the Lepidopterists’ Society, Minneapolis, MN (Program symposium: Biology of Caterpillars).
  • 1992-1993 “Dyar and His Pets: the Limacodidae.” Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia; Dept. Entomology, U. Minnesota.
  • 1992 “The Influence of Darwin on the Classification of Lepidoptera in the Latter Part of the 19th Century.” National Meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Baltimore (Program symposium: Darwin’s influence on Entomology).
  • 1991-1998 “Digging for Dyar: the Man Behind the Myth” (with Pamela Henson). Smithsonian Castle Docents; National Museum of Natural History noontime public lecture series in Baird Auditorium and for the Resident Associates Program; Annual Banquet of the Entomological Society of Washington, College Park, MD; Banquet for the annual meeting of the Lepidopterists’ Society, East Lansing, Michigan; Research in progress lecture series, Smithsonian Inst. Archives.
  • 1990, 1991 “Evolution of Larval Locomotion and Other Behaviors in Limacodidae and Related Families (Lepidoptera: Zygaenoidea).” National meetings of the Entomological Society of America in Reno, Nevada (Program symposium: use of video in Entomology) and in New Orleans, Louisiana (Section A symposium: immature insects).

Public Outreach

  • 2012-2013 – Research including caterpillar videos featured in exhibit “More Than Meets the Eye” at National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
  • 2004 --NPR interview on “Fresh Air” with Teri Gross about the book “Night Visions: The Secret Designs of Moths.
  • 1999-2000, 1995 video on caterpillars for “Bugfest,” a public outreach day at the Smithsonian Institution sponsored by the Department of Entomology, Systematic Entomology Laboratory and the Insect Zoo.
  • 1998-1999 -- Moths and Butterflies at University Park Elementary School, Maryland.
  • 1998 -- Career Day, Seabrook Elementary School, Maryland

Entomological Organizations

  • Entomological Society of America
  • Entomology Collections Network
  • Lepidopterists’ Society
  • Entomological Society of Washington
  • Lepidoptera Research Foundation
  • Maryland Entomological Society
  • Pacific Coast Entomology Club

Entomological/Systematics Boards (current)

  • Israel Journal of Entomology
  • Baltic American Biotaxonomy Institute (B.A.B.I.)
  • North American Butterfly Association Common Names