Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

DELTA home

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults relatively long-bodied; medium built (wingspan more than 8 and less than 15 times the thoracic width); wings in repose packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen.

Head smooth (-scaled). Antennae of medium length to long; extending to about about 0.75 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males simple; very shortly simply-ciliate. The antennal scape without a pecten; not forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli absent. Chaetosemata present, or absent (?). Maxillary palps much reduced to absent (rudimentary); 1 segmented, or 2 segmented. Labial palps ascending (recurved); 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed; scaly towards the base.

Wingspan 15–31 mm; 9–12 times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow; about 3.5–4.5 times as long as wide; the outer margin convexly curved; apically blunt; ground colour predominantly white or cream (or whitish), or grey. Hindwings ovate-lanceolate (or elongate-ovate); similar in breadth to the forewings. The fringe of the hindwings about 0.2–0.4 times the width of the membrane. The upper surfaces plain; with neither discal spot nor transverse lines; hindwings with a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 12 veined, or 13 veined; with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings comprising 1b and 1c. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c (at least distally). Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. The transverse vein complete. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings 10 veined; with 3 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings simple. The transverse vein complete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins 3+4 proximally joined (connate). 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; not hairy.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs smooth or minutely pitted (?). Larval prolegs 10. Larvae exposed feeders (usually), or concealed feeders; feeding in communal tents (in slight webs on leaves). Mostly on Boraginaceae.

British representation. Genera 1; 6 species (2 adventive). Ethmia bipunctella (Viper's Bugloss Moth, Bordered Echium Ermel), Ethmia pusiella (Gromwell Moth, Beautiful Ermel - adventive), Ethmia quadrillella, etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Gelechioidea.

Illustrations. • Ethmia bipunctella (Viper's Bugloss Moth, Bordered Echium Ermel: B. Ent. 412). • Ethmia pusiella (Gromwell Moth, Beautiful Ermel: B. Ent. 412). • Ethmia bipunctella, E. pusiella: B. Ent. 412, legend+text. • Ethmia bipunctella, E. pusiella: B. Ent. 412, text cont.. • Ethmia quadrillella (as funerella), Ethmia bipunctella, Ethmia dodecia (as decemguttella): Stainton 13, VI (1873). • Stainton 13, VI (1873): original legend.. • Ethmia quadrillella (specimens): photo. • Ethmia pusiella: Stephens IV, 1834. • Ethmia quadrillella: Stainton (1859). • Ethmia quadrillella: Stainton (1854).

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.’.