British Insects: the Plume moths


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Platyptilia Hübner

Including Gillmeria.

Adults. Face tufted. Labial palps sub-ascending. Wing-span (17–)22–30 mm. Forewings conspicously cleft; 2-segmented; cleft from beyond the middle (from about 2/3 to 3/4). The lower lobe expanded towards the apex. Forewings conspicuously patterned (with some species markedly variable in size and markings, leading to confusion over identifications); light brown, brown, fuscous or ferrugineous ochreous, the apical 2/3 of the terminal cilia white. The apical 2/3 of the terminal cilia white. The base of the fissure preceded by a white fascia (in P. tesseradactyla), or not associated with noticeable marking. Forewing venation exhibiting the cell apically truncated. Forewing vein 8 present (stalked with 9, 11 remote); 9 present. Forewing vein 10 present. Forewing vein 10 separate. Hindwings conspicuously cleft; 3-segmented (the posterior lobe narrower than the other two); dark grey or dark brownish grey. Hindwings similarly coloured to the forewings to differently coloured from the forewings. Hindwings ochreous to dark fuscous. Hindwings with a large black scale-tooth in the dorsal cilia of the posterior segment (usually), or without large black scale-teeth in the the posterior segment (the tooth very small, indistinct or lacking in P. pallidactyla). The large scale-tooth in the posterior hindwing segment when present located in the middle of the dorsum. The second lobe 3-veined. Hindwing vein 3 present (in the middle lobe).

Life history and botanical associations. Adults abroad June to September; not hibernating. Associated with herbs; Tenuinucelli; Asterales.

Larvae and pupae. The larvae found January to December; hibernating, or not hibernating; on Compositae; Achillea, Antennaria, Petasites, Tanacetum, Tussilago. Feeding exposed, or concealed (often); on flowers, or on leaves, or on young shoots; in stems, or in fruits, or in leaves (often mining).

Distribution and habitats. England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. In open grassy parts of woods in Cornwall, North Devon, Kent and Lancashire, and mainly coastal (P. calodactyla); common on roadsides, railway embankments etc. throughout the British Isles except the Shetlands (P. gonodactyla); widespread in marshy places but local throughout Britain and Ireland (P. isodactylus); widely distributed in England north to Durham where Tanacetum vulgare grows (P. ochrodactyla); probably widely distributed throughout Britain and Ireland, often on waste ground on well drained soils (P. pallidactyla); or confined to Ireland, in open limestone localites in Clare and Galway and grassy ridges in east Tyrone (P. tesseradactyla). British species: P. calodactyla, P. gonodactyla, P. isodactylus, P. ochrodactyla (Gillmeria), P. pallidactyla (Gillmeria), P. tesseradactyla.

Subfamily. Subfamily Platyptilinae.

Illustrations. • Platyptilia pallidactyla (specimen): photo. • cf. Platyptilia pallidactyla (specimens): photo. • Platyptilia gonodactyla (specimens): photo. • Platyptilia calodactyla, P. gonodactyla, P. isodactylus and P. ochrodactyla, with Agdistis, Amblyptilia, Cnaemidophorus and Oxyptilus: Leech, 1886. • Platyptilia ochrodactyla, with Adaina, Alucita, Buckleria, Merrifieldia, Pselnophorus and Pterophorus: Leech, 1886. • Platyptilia gonodactyla, P. isodactylus, P. ochrodactyla, P. pallidactyla: Beirne, 1952. • Platyptilia gonodactyla: Hübner, 1813. • Platyptilia calodactyla: Hübner, 1813. • Platyptilia calodactyla: Hübner, 1819. • Platyptilia ochrodactyla: Hübner, 1813. • Marasmarcha, Merrifieldia, Platyptilia, Stenoptilia: Beirne, 1952. • Amblyptilia, Agdistis, Capperia, Buckleria, Cnaemidophorus, Oxyptilus, Platyptilia: Beirne, 1952. • Platyptilia isodactylus and P. ochrodactyla: Barrett, 1907. • Platyptilia calodactyla, P. gonodactyla and P. tesseradactyla: Barrett, 1907. • hindwing neuration: Platyptilia gonodactyla.

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.’.