British Insects: Pug moths (Lepidoptera-Geometridae)

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Eupithecia subfuscata (Haworth)

E. singulariata (Haworth), E. castigata (Hübner), E. castigaria (Boisdval), E. blancheata Cooke.

Grey Pug.

Adults. Posterior tibiae of males 4-spurred. Wingspan 19–24 mm. Forewings not noticeably elongate; the outer margin convexly curved; the costa more or less straight to arched; apically blunt.

Forewings relatively conspicuously patterned, or dingy (in the melanic f. obscurissima); whitish-grey but sometimes tinged ochreous, with obtusely angulated dark striae, a geniculate postmedian fascia and a pale dentate subterminal line; or in the melanic f. obscurisssima, dark fuscous with only the discal mark convincingly detectable. The forewing patterning more or less confined to the dark discal spot (f. obscurissima), or not restricted to dark discal or costal and discal spots; without a predominant anterior-median triangle of dark spots. Forewings with a dark discal mark. The discal mark elongate; not whitish-edged; black and distinct. Forewings of subsp. subfuscata with a pale tornal spot (this elongate). Forewing fringes somewhat chequered.

Hindwings in f. subfuscata whitish grey, resembling the forewings in colour or paler anteriorly, fuscous or blackish in f. obscurissima; patterned similarly to the forewings to less conspicuously patterned than the forewings; in subsp. subfuscata conspicuously patterned (striated and lined like the forewings, at least dorsally and postmedianly), or rather plain (plain in f. obscurissima); transversely striated, or without transverse striation; with a clear discal mark, or without a clear discal mark (f. obscurissima); with a pale tornal spot (often), or without a pale tornal spot (f. obscurissima); the fringes conspicuously chequered to not conspicuously chequered.

The abdomen conspicuously patterned; neither ringed nor banded nor white-based; with lateral series of black spots.

Neuration. Forewing and hindwing neuration layout revealed in detail by conspicuous darkening (including the outlines of the cells, in melanics), or not conspicuously darkened.

Genitalia. The male abdominal plate in the form of two sclerotized components broadly joined basally. The bursa copulatrix ornamented over most of its surface; only inconspicuously spiny (scobinate, incorporating only small spines).

Early stages, ecology. Botanically polyphagous. Foodplants herbaceous-dicotyledonous; Caryophyllaceae, Compositae (Asteraceae), Dipsacaceae, Onagraceae, Leguminosae-Papilionoideae, Rosaceae, and Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) (etc.?). The larvae found on divers dicot herbs (Scabiosa, Senecio, Solidago, Lychnis, Ononis, Prunus, Epilobium,Angelica, etc.); feeding on flowers and leafy shoots.

Months of appearance, distribution. Adults abroad May, June, and July, or August; larvae found July, August, September, and October. South-east England, Central-southern England, South-west England, English Midlands, Northern England, Southern Scotland, Northern Scotland, Wales, and Ireland (common throughout the British Isles, except the Shetlands).

Melanism. Melanic imagines frequent. Melanic f. obscurissima with dark fuscous fore- and hindwings, marked only by conspicuously darkened nevures and the small forewing discal spot; and f. obscura less strongly darkened, with the subterminal line (and discal spot???) remaining. Melanics of E. tripunctaria, E. trisignaria, E. subfuscata, E. virgaureata and E. lariceata are not reliably separable without resort to the genitalia.

Special key characters. Forewings not dominated by double ante- and postmedian lines. The subterminal line not whitish throughout. Hindwings whitish, or fuscous, or pale grey, or grey, or blackish.

General comments. Non-melanic adults sometimes similar to E. lariceata, but differing in the less elongated forewings with darker ground colour and no reddish tinge, the less marked and less strongly angulated striae, the veins not black-marked, the smaller discal dot, and the somewhat shorter cilia of the male antennae.

Illustrations. • E. subfuscata (Grey Pug), with larva: Barrett. • E. lariceata, E. subfuscata, E. tripunctaria and E. pimpinellata, with larvae: Barrett. • E. subfuscata (Grey Pug), with similar pugs: South. • E. subfuscata, with 9 other pugs illustrated by Hubner (1790–1817). • E. subfuscata (Grey 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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