British Insects: the Plume moths


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Oxyptilus Zeller


Adults. Face shortly tufted, or smooth. Labial palps ascending. Tibiae thickened with scales at the origins of the spurs. Wing-span 13–22 mm. Forewings conspicously cleft; 2-segmented; cleft from about the middle. The lower lobe expanded towards the apex. Forewings conspicuously patterned to relatively plain; light brownish ochreous (O. distans) or reddish fuscous (O. pilosellae, O. parvidactylus), with obscure to well defined whitish bars on the segments. Costal and dorsal cilia with whitish (O. distans), pale reddish-ochreous (O. pilosellae) or white (O. parvidactylus) bars. The base of the fissure preceded not associated with noticeable marking. Forewing venation exhibiting the cell apically truncated. Forewing vein 3 present (out of 4); 8 present; 9 present (out of 8). Forewing vein 10 present. Forewing vein 10 out of 8. Forewing venation summary: 11 from near 8. Hindwings conspicuously cleft; 3-segmented (the three lobes more or less equal on width); dark grey or dark fuscous. Hindwings differently coloured from the forewings (darker). Hindwings with a large black scale-tooth in the dorsal cilia of the posterior segment (one only). The large scale-tooth in the posterior hindwing segment located much beyond the middle of the dorsum (at 2/3, or near the apex). The second lobe 3-veined. Hindwing vein 3 present (in the middle lobe).

Life history and botanical associations. Adults abroad June to August. Associated with herbs; Tenuinucelli; Asterales.

Larvae and pupae. The larvae found January to December; hibernating (those of O. distans perhaps hibernating within stems), or not hibernating; on Compositae; Pilosella (P. officinarum). Feeding variously exposed, or concealed; on flowers, or on leaves, or on young shoots.

Distribution and habitats. England and Wales. Favouring open grassy places and low herbage. Breck district of Suffolk and Norfolk, coastal sand-hills and lower slopes of chalk hills in Devon, Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk, and in the breck district (O. distans); common in parts of SE England from Kent and Surrey to Cambridge (O. pilosellae); widely distributed in England and Wales as far north as Westmorland (O. parvidactylus); or occasionally reported from distant localities in England and Wales (presumably immigrant specimens of the mainland-european O. laetus). British species: O. distans, O. laetus, O. parvidactylus, O. pilosellae.

Subfamily. Subfamily Platyptilinae.

Illustrations. • Oxyptilus parvidactylus and O. pilosellae, with Capperia, Emmilina, Euleioptilus, Hellinsia, Marasmarcha, Oidaematophorus, Ovendenia and Stenoptilia: Leech, 1886. • Oxyptilus distans, with Agdistis, Amblyptilia, Cnaemidophorus and Platyptilia: Leech, 1886. • Amblyptilia, Agdistis, Capperia, Buckleria, Cnaemidophorus, Oxyptilus, Platyptilia: Beirne, 1952. • Oxyptilus distans, O. parvidactylus, O. pilosellae (details): beirne, 1952. • cf. Oxyptilus pilosellae: Hübner, 1813. • Oxyptilus pilosellae: Barrett, 1907.

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. British insects: the Plume moths (Pterophoridae and Alucitidae). Version: 1st January 2012.’.