Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

DELTA home

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Including Thaumetopoeidae.

Adults nocturnal; relatively medium-bodied to long-bodied; medium built (wingspan more than 8 and less than 15 times the thoracic width) to heavily built (wingspan less than 8 times the thoracic width). The abdomen conspicuously patterned (e.g., conspicuously banded in Cerura), or plain. Adults wings in repose packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen.

Antennae very short to of medium length; extending to about 0.41–0.46 times the length of the forewing; not clubbed. Antennae of males bipectinate, or dentate; sometimes fasciculate-ciliate. Eyes hairy, or glabrous. Ocelli present (rarely, reduced), or absent. Chaetosemata absent. Maxillary palps much reduced (very small), or absent; when present 1 segmented, or 2 segmented. Labial palps well developed, or short or rudimentary; ascending; 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed.

Wingspan 24–68 mm; 6–12 times the thoracic width. Forewings broad; (1.9–)2–2.5 times as long as wide. The outer and hind margins angled at 95–130 degrees. The outer margin slightly convexly curved to more or less straight, or concavely curved (slightly); forewings apically blunt (mostly), or pointed. Hindwings broadly rounded; similar in breadth to the forewings; with a rounded apex; the upper surfaces conspicuously patterned above (occasionally with dark markings at the inner angle), or plain (usually); with a discal spot, or with a discal spot and with transverse lines, or with neither discal spot nor transverse lines; without a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 11 veined (when 5 vestigial), or 12 veined; with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c (with Meyrick representing 1c in Cerura vinula as proximally vestigial, becoming tubular distally), or comprising 1a and 1b. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c, or lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. The transverse vein complete, or incomplete. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings 7–9 veined; with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings representing 1b only, or comprising 1a and 1b. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a, or lacking vein 1a (vestigial in N. ziczac); lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings simple. The transverse vein complete, or incomplete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins 3+4 proximally joined and 6+7 proximally joined (the former connate, the latter connate or stalked), or 6+7 proximally joined. Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell (near its middle), or anastomosing with the upper margin of the cell (e.g., E. ziczac); not approximating to vein 7.

Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis (males), or without a tibial epiphysis (females). Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred, or 4-spurred; hairy.

Tympanal organs present; metathoracic.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs not flattened; smooth or minutely pitted. Larval prolegs 8 (then the hind claspers modified into tail-like appendages), or 10. Larvae conspicuously, densely long-hairy, or not densely long-hairy; with urticating hairs (commonly), or without urticating hairs. Mainly on amentiferous Dicot trees, especially Salicaceae.

Pupae concealed; above the ground (in a cocoon above ground). Empty pupae not becoming protruded.

British representation. Genera 20 (2 adventive); 29 species (3 adventive). Cerura vinula (Puss Moth), Clostera anachoreta (Scarce Chocolate-tip), Clostera curtula (Chocolate-tip), Clostera pigra (Small Chocolate-tip), Diloba caeruleocephala (Figure of Eight), Drymonia dodonaea (Marbled Brown), Drymonia ruficornis (Lunar Marbled Brown), Eligmodonta ziczac (Pebble Prominent), Furcula bicuspis (Alder Kitten), Furcula bifida (Poplar Kitten), Furcula furcula (Sallow Kitten), Gluphisia crenata (The Dusky Marbled Brown, British status uncertain), Harpyia milhauseri (Tawny Prominent, not illustrated), Leucodonta bicoloria (White Prominent - extinct in Britain), Notodonta dromedarius (Iron Prominent), Notodonta torva (Large Dark Prominent - adventive), Odontosia carmelita (Scarce Prominent), Peridea anceps (Great Prominent), Phalera bucephala (Buff-tip), Pheosia gnoma (Lesser Swallow Prominent), Pheosia tremula (Swallow Prominent), Pterostoma palpina (Pale Prominent), Ptilodon capucina (Coxcomb Prominent), Ptilodon cucullina (Maple Prominent), Ptilophora plumigera (Plumed Prominent), Stauropus fagi (The Lobster Moth), Ptilophora plumigera (Plumed Prominent), Trichiocercus sparshalli (Long-tailed Bombyx), Tritophia tritophus (Three Humped Prominent - adventive).

Classification. Macromoths. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Notodontoidea.

Trichiocercus sparshalli (sometimes referred to the family Thaumatopoeidae) is tagged ‘of doubtful status’ by Bradley et al., but the provenance of Curtis's specimen - presented as British, with other exotic material, by Mr. Sparshall - is dubious.

Illustrations. • Larger Notodontidae and “Kittens”: Newman. • “Prominents” (1): Newman. • “Prominents” (2): Newman. • “Marbled Browns”, “Chocolate Tips”, “Figure of Eight”: Newman. • Larvae of Drepanidae and Notodontidae: Newman. • Clostera anachoreta (Scarce Chocolate-tip): B. Ent. 715. • Clostera anachoreta: B. Ent. 715, legend+text. • Clostera anachoreta: B. Ent. 715, text cont.. • Clostera pigra (Small Chocolate-tip): Stephens II, 1830. • Drymonia dodonaea (Marbled Brown, or Kitten Likeness): B. Ent. 755. • Drymonia dodonaea: B. Ent. 755, legend+text. • Drymonia dodonaea: B. Ent. 755, text cont.. • Furcula bifida (Poplar Kitten: B. Ent. 193). • Furcula bifida (legend+text: B. Ent. 193). • Furcula bifida (text, cont.: B. Ent. 193). • Notodonta dromedarius (Iron Prominent): B. Ent. 739. • Notodonta dromedarius: B. Ent. 739, legend+text. • Notodonta dromedarius: B. Ent. 739, text cont.. • Ptilophora plumigera (Plumed Prominent: B. Ent. 328). • Ptilophora plumigera: B. Ent. 328, legend+text. • Ptilophora plumigera: B. Ent. 328, text cont.. • Notodonta dromedarius, Odontonia carmelita, Ptilophora plumigera: Stephens II, 1830. • Phalera bucephala (Buff-tip: B. Ent. 530). • Phalera bucephala: B. Ent. 530, legend+text. • Phalera bucephala: B. Ent. 530, text cont.. • Stauropus fagi (Lobster Moth): B. Ent. 674. • Stauropus fagi: B. Ent. 674, legend+text. • Stauropus fagi: B. Ent. 674, text cont.. • Thaumetopoeinae. Trichiocercus sparshalli (Curtis): Long-tailed Bombyx: B. Ent. 336. • Trichiocercus sparshalli (B. Ent. 336, legend+text). • Trichiocercus sparshalli (B. Ent. 336, text cont.). • Cerura vinula (Puss Moth: Shaw and Nodder, about 1812). • Cerura vinula (Puss Moth: Shaw and Nodder, text). • 12 genera ("Prominents", "Chocolate-tips", "Buff Tip"): Kirby 32. • Furcula, Stauropus (Kittens and Lobster): Kirby 31 (part). • Cerura, Harpyia, Pheosia (Puss moth, Swallow Prominents): Kirby 31 (part). • Thaumatopoea (Processionary Moths): Kirby 33 (part). • Larvae: Clostera anacoreta, Clostera curtula (Duponchel, 1849). • Larvae: Notodonta ziczac, Pheosia gnoma, Pheosia tremula (Duponchel, 1849). • Larvae: Gluphisia crenata, Philophora plumigera (Duponchel, 1849). • Larva and cocoon: Cerura vinula (Duponchel, 1849). • Larva: Furcula bicuspis (Duponchel, 1849). • Larvae and pupa: Phalera bucephala (Duponchel, 1849). • Larvae: Pheosia tremula, Pterostoma palpina, Ptilodon capucina (Duponchel, 1849). • Larva, pupa, cocoon: Stauropus fagi (Duponchel, 1849). • neuration: Notodonta, Cerura.

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.’.