British Insects: the Plume moths


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Pterophorus Schäffer

Including Porritia and Wheeleria.

Adults. Face smooth. Labial palps sub-ascending. Tibiae simple. Wing-span 22–27 mm, or 28–32 mm (in P. pentadactyla). Forewings conspicously cleft; 2-segmented; cleft from about the middle. The lower lobe tapering distally or more or less parallel-sided. Forewings conspicuously patterned, or relatively plain; pure white with a few blackish scales in P. pentadactyla, yellowish- or ochreous-white with dark markings (including a blackish mark before the fissure) in the other two species. The cilia wholly white (P. pentadactyla), with dark grey spots on the costa, as well as on the dorsum beyond the middle and at the apex of both segments (P. galodactyla), or with a dark grey blotch on the middle of the upper margin and two on the lower margin of both segments (P. spilodactylus). The base of the fissure preceded by two dark dots (P. galodactyla), or by an oblique dark (sometimes interrupted) fascia (P. spilodactyla), or not associated with noticeable marking (P. pentadactyla). Forewing venation exhibiting the cell produced into points. Forewing vein 3 absent; 8 absent; 9 absent (as is 10). Forewing vein 10 present. Forewing venation summary: 8–10 absent, 11 near or out of 7 or absent. Hindwings conspicuously cleft; 3-segmented; white like the forewings in P. pentadactyla, grey or whitish grey in the other two species. Hindwings similarly coloured to the forewings, or differently coloured from the forewings. Hindwings white, or whitish to pale fuscous. Hindwings without large black scale-teeth in the the posterior segment. The second lobe 2-veined veins. Hindwing vein 3 absent.

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

Larvae and pupae. The larvae found January to December; hibernating (when small); on Convolvulaceae (P. pentadactyla), or Compositae (P. galadactyla), or Labiatae (P. spilodactylus); Arctium, Calystegia and Convolvulus, Marrubium. Feeding exposed; on flowers and on leaves.

Distribution and habitats. England, Wales, and Ireland. Common around hedgerows, waste ground and gardens throughout England, Wales and Ireland (P. pentadactyla); open woods in England and Wales from Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Glamorgan southwards (P. galactodactyla); or mainly associated with chalky soils in Dorset, Isle of Wight, Worcestershire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Caernarvon (P. spilodactylus). British species: P. galactodactyla (Porritia), P. pentadactyla, P. spilodactylus (Wheeleria).

Subfamily. Subfamily Pterophorinae.

Illustrations. • Pterophorus spilodactylus (Hore-hound Plume: B. Ent. 161). • Pterophorus spilodactylus: B. Ent. 161, legend+text. • Pterophorus spilodactylus: B. Ent. 161, text cont.. • Pterophorus pentadactyla (specimens): photo. • Pterophorus galactodactyla and P. pentadactyla: Hübner, 1813. • Pterophorus galactodactyla, P. pentadactyla and P. spilodactyla, with Adaina, Alucita, Buckleria, Merrifieldia, Platyptilia and Pselnophorus: Leech, 1886. • Pterophorus galactodactyla, P. pentadactyla, P. spilodactylus: Beirne, 1952. • Adaina microdactyla, Alucita, Emmelina, Euleioptilus, Hellinsia, Oidaematophorus, Ovendenia, Pselnophorus, Pterophorus. • Pterophorus galactodactyla, P. pentadactyla and P. spilodactylus: 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.’.