Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Hyponomeutidae; including Plutellidae, Roeslerstammiidae.

Adults relatively long-bodied; medium built (wingspan more than 8 and less than 15 times the thoracic width); not raising the hind-legs in repose; wings in repose packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen.

Head rough (on the crown), or smooth. Antennae of medium length to very long; extending to about 0.6–1 times the length of the forewing; not clubbed. Antennae of males dentate (or serrulate), or simple; non-ciliate, or simply-ciliate, or pubescent. The antennal scape with a pecten (often), or without a pecten (e.g., Hyponomeuta, Prays, Swammerdamia); not forming an ‘eye cap’. Ocelli present (rarely, then small), or absent. Chaetosemata present, or absent. Maxillary palps well developed (filiform and porrected, in Plutelliinae), or much reduced; 1 segmented, or 2 segmented, or 4 segmented. Labial palps well developed, or short or rudimentary; drooping, or porrect, or ascending (sometimes short); 3 segmented. Proboscis fully developed (usually), or absent; lwhen developed, not scaly.

Wingspan 7–26(–32) mm; 11–15 times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow; 2.9–3.8 times as long as wide. Tornus clearly defined to undetectable (undetectable in Argyresthia). Forewings apically blunt to pointed, or hooked (Ypsolopha); predominantly shining-metallic (often shining-grey, -white or bronzy), or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings. Hindwings lanceolate to ovate; similar in breadth to the forewings; with a rounded apex. The fringe of the hindwings 0.25–3 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 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c (at least distally), or lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally to simple. The transverse vein complete to incomplete. Forewings with an accessory cell (e.g., Hyponomeuta), or without an accessory cell. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings 7–9 veined, or 10 veined; with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins, or with 3 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c, or comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a, or lacking vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings obsoletely furcate, or simple. The transverse vein complete, or complete to incomplete. The hindwing cell without a cubital pecten of hairs. 5 veins arising from the hindwing cell (then vein 4 absent), or 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another (when vein 4 absent), or 3+4 proximally joined, or 3+4 proximally joined and 5+6 proximally joined, or 6+7 proximally joined (then these connate or stalked, in Plutellinae). 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, or concealed feeders (then often feeding within buds, fruits, leaves or bark); feeding in communal tents (often), or not feeding in communal tents; leaf-mining (rarely), or not leaf-mining. Variously associated with conifers and a divers range of Dicot trees, shrubs and herbs; but seemingly avoiding Monocots, which supports recent transference of Orthotelia to Glyphipterigidae.

Pupae exposed, with no coccoon to concealed (often in a open-network cocoon); on the surface of the ground, or above the ground. Empty pupae protruded from place of concealment.

British representation. Genera 21; about 75 species. Ochsenheimeria taurella (Liverpool Feather-horn, Middle-feather Clothes-moth), Plutella xylostella, Yponomeuta evonymella (Full Spotted Ermine), Rhigognostis annulatella (Ringed Diamond-back, Annulated Smudge), Yponomeuta cagnagella (Small Ermine), Ypsolopha scabrella (Wainscot Hooktip, Wainscot Smudge), etc.

Classification. Microlepidoptera. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Yponomeutoidea.

Illustrations. • Swammerdamia heroldella (as griseocapitella), S. caesiella, S. pyrella: Stainton 11, II (1870). • Stainton 11, II (1870): original legend.. • Prays fraxinella (as curtisellus), Prays oleae (as oleellus): Stainton 11, I (1870). • Stainton 11, I (1870): original legend.. • Zelleria cf. hepariella (as phyllaerella), Z. oleastrella (mainland-European), Kessleria saxifragae: Stainton 11, III (1870). • Stainton 11, III (1870): original legend.. • Ochsenheimeria taurella (as O. birdella): Stainton 13, I (1873). • Stainton 13, I (1873): original legend.. • Ypsolopha ustella (as ustulellus): Stainton 13, VIII (1873). • Stainton 13, VIII (1873): original legend.. • Argyresthia, Prays, Pseudoswammerdamia, Ypsolophus: Stainton (1859). • Stainton's representative 'Tineina' (1854). • Digitivalva, Ochsenheimeria, RoŽslerstammia, and Swammerdamia (Stainton, 1854. • Cedestis, Ocnerostoma, Ypsolopha and Zelleria (Stainton, 1854). • Argyresthia (from Stainton). • Atemelia, Prays, Scythropia, Yponomeuta (Stainton, 1854). • Eidophasia, Plutella, Ypsolopha (Stainton, 1854). • Larvae of 'Tineina' (Stainton, 1854). • Acrolepiopsis betulella (Curtis), Durham Tinea: B. Ent. 679. • Acrolepiopsis betulella (Curtis): B. Ent. 679, legend+text. • Acrolepiopsis betulella (Curtis): B. Ent. 679, text cont.. • Argyresthia semitestacella (Testaceous White-back): B. Ent. 719. • Argyresthia semitestacella: B. Ent. 719, legend+text. • Argyresthia semitestacella: B. Ent. 719, text cont.. • Ochsenheimeria mediopectinellus (Liverpool Feather-horn, Middle-feather Clothes-moth: B. Ent. 344). • Ochsenheimeria mediopectinellus (detail, dissections: B. Ent. 344). • Ochsenheimeria mediopectinellus: B. Ent. 344, legend+text. • Ochsenheimeria mediopectinellus: B. Ent. 344, text cont.. • Rhigonostis annulatella (Ringed Diamond-back, Annulated Smudge: B. Ent. 420). • Rhigonostis annulatella: B. Ent. 420, legend+text. • Rhigonostis annulatella: B. Ent. 420, text cont.. • Plutella xylostella (Cabbage Smudge). • Ypsolopha scabrella (Wainscot Hooktip, Wainscot Smudge: B. Ent. 535). • Ypsolopha scabrella: B. Ent. 535, legend+text. • Ypsolopha scabrella: B. Ent. 535, text cont.. • Ypsolopha dentella: Kirby 55. • Ypsolopha mucronella and Ypsolopha sequella: Stephens IV, 1834. • Euhyponomeuta stannella: photo. • Ypsolopha dentella (specimen): photo. • Ypsolopha lucella (specimens): photo. • Ypsolopha parenthesella (specimens): photo. • Ypsolopha sequella (specimen): photo. • Yponomeuta cagnagella (specimens): photo. • Yyponomeuta: Kirby. 22, Yyponomeuta evonymella; 23, H. cagnagella. • Yyponomeuta plumbella, neuration. • Argyresthia curvella, neuration. • Ypsolopha ustella: 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.’.