Thaumetopoea cretensis larva, Crete - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Thaumetopoea cretensis larva, Crete - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Thaumetopoea cretensis (İpekdal & Avtzis, 2023)


Thaumetopoea cretensis is a moth of the family Notodontidae on the island of Crete, Greece. It is a Creten endemic species.

Scientific name

Thaumetopoea cretensis (İpekdal & Avtzis, 2023)

Common name


Superfamily: Noctuoidea > Family: Notodontidae > Subfamily: Thaumetopoeinae > Genus: Thaumetopoea


33-36 mm


Pine forests and pine groves.

Food plant

The larva is monophagous on Pinaceae and is a major pine forest pest. It lives in large “nests", usually in pines (Pinus) and occasionally in cedars (Cedrus).

Throughout its life cycle, the larva constructs several shelters, probably for protection from predators. The first of these is flimsy and temporary, but in the third stage, the caterpillar builds a permanent nest, without openings where it settles and feeds.

At the end of their last instar, the caterpillars stop feeding on pine needles and leave their host tree. Up to three hundred caterpillars can travel long distances from the host tree forming lengthy processions in search of soft soil to bury themselves and pupate.

Larvae are also thought to be responsible for causing a large number of allergies in humans and animals in the springtime when they descend from the pines and move to the ground. The cause of allergies is due to the existence of an allergenic substance found in the hairs of the caterpillar.

Flight period
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Lepiforum e. V.


Basso et al. 2023 consider the Cretan populations of Thaumetopoea as the new separate taxon Thaumetopoea cretensis (İpekdal & Avtzis, sp. nov.) 

“...A thorough analysis of all markers showed that Crete populations are isolated from all the other populations of the Asian mainland and the Aegean archipelago (Petsopoulos et al. 2018), leading to the description of the new species…"