British Insects: the Plume moths

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Stenoptilia Hübner

Adults. Face with a horny prominence. Labial palps porrected (the second segment with loose rough or appressed scales, the terminal one filiform). Tibiae simple. Wing-span 18–26 mm. Forewings conspicously cleft; 2-segmented; cleft from beyond the middle (from about 2/3). The lower lobe expanded towards the apex. Forewings conspicuously patterned, or relatively plain (with some of the species - notably S. bipunctidactyla and S. pterodactyla - very variable in size and markings); brown, ochreous brown or fuscous grey. The cilia variously lined and/or dotted white and blackish. The base of the fissure preceded by a single dark spot or mark, or by two dark dots (one often smaller or obsolete), or by a transverse dark mark (representing two confluent spots). Forewing venation exhibiting the cell apically truncated. Forewing vein 3 present (?); 8 present; 9 present (stalked with 8). Forewing vein 10 present. Forewing vein 10 separate. Hindwings conspicuously cleft; 3-segmented (the anterior lobe broader than the others); dark grey or dark fucous. Hindwings generally similarly coloured to the forewings. Hindwings without large black scale-teeth in the the posterior segment. The second lobe 3-veined. Hindwing vein 3 present (in the middle lobe).

Life history and botanical associations. Adults abroad June to October. Associated with herbs; Crassinucelli and Tenuinucelli; Asterales, Gentianales, and Saxifragales.

Larvae and pupae. The larvae found January to December; on Gentianaceae (S. pneumonanthes, S. zophodactylus), or Saxifragaceae (S. millieridactyla and S. islandicus); Blackstonia, Gentiana, and Centaurium, Saxifraga. Feeding concealed, or exposed to concealed (frequently burrowing in young downwards into young stems); on flowers, on leaves, on young shoots, and on fruits; in stems, or in fruits (e.g., S. pneumonanthes), or in leaves.

Distribution and habitats. England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Common and abundant (with much variation in adult size and markings) throughout the British Isles, in marshes, meadows and open woods (S. bipunctidactyla); infrequently found from central England to central Scotland, and indigenous in the Burren but occasionally appearing elsewhere in Ireland (S. millieridactyla); in boggy parts of heaths in Dorset and Hampshire (S. pneumonanthes); frequenting hedges, fields and wood margins, common in England and Ireland, but more local in northern England and Scotland (S. pterodactyla); widely distributed in England and Wales on coastal cliffs and sandhills, chalk hills, dry pastures and railway embankments (S. zophodactylus). British species: S. aridus, S. bipunctidactyla, S. islandicus, S. millieridactyla, S. pneumonanthes, S. zophodactylus.

Subfamily. Subfamily Platyptilinae.

Illustrations. • Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla, S. pterodactyla and S. zophodactylus, with Capperia, Emmilina, Euleioptilus, Hellinsia, Marasmarcha, Oidaematophorus, Ovendenia and Oxyptilus. Leech, 1886. • Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla, S. millieridactyla, S. pterodactyla, S. saxifragae, S. zophodactylus: Beirne, 1952. • Stenoptilia pterodactyla: Hübner, 1813. • Stenoptilia pterodactyla: Hübner, 1813. • Stenoptilia pterodactyla and S. zophodactylus: Barret, 1907. • Marasmarcha, Merrifieldia, Platyptilia, Stenoptilia: Beirne, 1952. • Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla: Barrett, 1907. • neuration: Agdistis, Emmelina, Merrifielda, Stenoptilia.


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. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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