British Insects: Pug moths (Lepidoptera-Geometridae)

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Eupithecia icterata Villers

E. subfulvata Haworth; including subsp. subfulvata (Haworth), subsp. oxydata Treitschke and f. cognata Stephens.

Tawny-speckled Pug.

Adults. Thorax neither white nor white-striped. Posterior tibiae of males 4-spurred. Wingspan (20–)24–27 mm. Forewings not noticeably elongate; the outer margin convexly curved; the costa more or less straight to arched; apically blunt.

Forewings relatively conspicuously patterned to dingy; in subsp. subfulvata predominantly warm reddish-orangish-brown, the costa, termen and sometimes the dorsum rather broadly darker greyer, often striated dark grey with the terminal line whitish or inconspicuous except towards the tornus, or in f. cognata grey, conspicuously striated and lined darker; with various intermediates occurring, but usually with some traces of orangish-brown. The forewing patterning more or less confined to the dark discal spot (f. grisescens), or not restricted to dark discal or costal and discal spots. Forewings with a dark discal mark. The discal mark somewat elongate to dot-like; not whitish-edged; black and distinct. Forewings with a pale tornal spot to without a tornal spot. Forewing fringes conspicuously chequered to somewhat chequered.

Hindwings grey, with the darker striae more emphasised posteriorly and postmedianly; patterned similarly to the forewings to less conspicuously patterned than the forewings (often similarly striated, but without the orange tints); conspicuously patterned to rather plain (the patterning less marked in f. grisescens); transversely striated (only very faintly so in f. grisescens); with a clear discal mark, or without a clear discal mark; without a pale tornal spot; the fringes conspicuously chequered to not conspicuously chequered.

The abdomen conspicuously patterned; neither ringed nor banded nor white-based; with a black lateral streak.

Neuration. Forewing and hindwing neuration layout more or less revealed in detail by conspicuous darkening (in f. grisescens), or not conspicuously darkened. Vein 10 of the forewings arising out of 11 and anastomosing with 9 to form a simple areole.

Genitalia. The male abdominal plate in the form of a single sclerotized patch with a pair of apical extensions, or in the form of a single sclerotized patch with retuse apex (the prongs short and blunt). The bursa copulatrix ornamented over most of its surface to with ornamentation conspicuously restricted in distribution (being proximally smooth to only finely scobiculate); fairly coarsely, conspicuously spiny.

Early stages, ecology. Botanically specialised. Foodplants herbaceous-dicotyledonous; Compositae (Asteraceae). The larvae found on Achillea, Tanacetum, Artemisia, Senecio and chrysanthemums; feeding on flowers, seeds, and leafy shoots.

Months of appearance, distribution. Adults abroad May, June, July, August, and September; larvae found September and October. South-east England, Central-southern England, South-west England, English Midlands, Northern England, Southern Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

Melanism. Melanic imagines frequent (f. grisescens). The melanic f. grisescens with fuscous fore- and hindwings exhibiting the discal spots and detectable fasciae and lines.

Special key characters. Forewings without a postmedian line bearing arrow-like markings; not predominantly green, yellow, or blackish; without a dark grey band and two reddish-ochreous fasciae. Hindwings fuscous, or pale grey, or grey.

General comments. A common species throughout lowland Britain, with much variation of wing coloration and patterning reflected in formal recognition of forms and subspecies.

Illustrations. • E. icterata (Tawny-speckled Pug) f. subfulvata with larva: Barrett. • E. centaureata, E. succenturiata and E. icterata subfulvata, with larvae: Barrett. • E. icterata (Tawny-speckled Pug), with similar pugs: South. • Subspecies of E. icterata (Tawny-speckled Pug), with other Pugs: Swain.


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: Pug moths (Lepidoptera-Geometridae). Version: 29th December 2011. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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