Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Adults crepuscular, or nocturnal; relatively medium-bodied; relatively slender-bodied (wingspan more than 15 times the thoracic width); wings in repose partially opened, or spread flat with their lower surfaces more or less appressed to the substrate.

Head smooth. Antennae of medium length; extending to about 0.64–0.68 times the length of the forewing; not clubbed. Antennae of males simple; minutely simply-ciliate. The antennal scape without a pecten. Ocelli present, or absent. Chaetosemata absent (?). Maxillary palps well developed, or much reduced, or absent; when present 3–5 segmented. Labial palps porrect to ascending; 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed; not scaly.

Wingspan 13–16 mm; 17–19 times the thoracic width. Wings deeply divided into plumose segments. Forewings narrow to broad; 2.5–3.5 times as long as wide. The upper surfaces conspicuously patterned above (profusely dark-and-light barred); with transverse lines (but no discal spot); hindwings with a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 8 veined, or 9 veined (Meyrick: veins 5, 8, 9 and 10 lacking, and the plumes occupied by veins 1b, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 respectively), or 11 veined, or 12 veined (with Le Cerf and Herbulot, and Common, depicting the supposedly missing veins as short branches from vein 7 to the costa!); with 1 anal vein. The anal veins of the forewings supposedly representing 1b only. Forewings lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings simple. The transverse vein complete (but hard to find). Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings 7–9 veined (?); with 1 anal vein. The anal veins of the hindwings supposedly representing 1b only. Hindwings lacking vein 1a; lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings simple. Hindwings with a discal cell, or without a discal cell. The transverse vein complete to lacking (depending on whose illustrations one believes .....). 5 veins arising from the hindwing cell, or 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell (vein 5 being absent). The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another. Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell; not approximating to vein 7.

Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 4-spurred.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs not flattened; smooth or minutely pitted, or ribbed and/or reticulate. Larval prolegs 10. Larvae concealed feeders (in flowers and buds). On Lonicera.

Pupae concealed; subterranean, or on the surface of the ground, or above the ground. Empty pupae not becoming protruded.

British representation. Genera 1; 1 species. Alucita hexadactyla (Twenty-plume).

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Alucitoidea.

Illustrations. • Alucita hexadactyla (Twenty-plume Moth): Br. Ent. 695. • Alucita hexadactyla: Br. Ent. 695, legend+text. • Alucita hexadactyla: Br. Ent. 695, text cont.. • Alucita hexadactyla (Twenty-plume: Stainton). • Alucita hexadactyla: neuration.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera. Version: 8th June 2016.’.