Pterophorus pentadactyla, Crete - photo © K. Bormpoudaki
The Family Pterophoridae (Pterophorid Moths, Plume Moths)
The Family Pterophoridae
The family Pterophoridae (Plume Moths) is a family of Lepidoptera with more than 1,000 species described worldwide, with probably many undescribed tropical species.
These moths are usually nocturnal and dull-colored, tan, brown, or gray with paler and darker markings. They have unusually modified wings. The wing venation is used as a distinguishing character in separating genera. Specialized scales distributed in rows on the underside of the hindwing are present in both males and females of all species.
The forewings of plume moths usually consist of two curved spars with more or less bedraggled bristles trailing behind. The hindwings have a similar appearance but have three spars. The usual resting posture is with the wings extended laterally and narrowly rolled up (T-shaped). They often pass unnoticed by potential predators even when resting in exposed situations in daylight. Some species have larvae which are stem or root-borers while others are leaf-browsers.
Pupae are either formed in larval galleries or affixed to host-plant stems or debris, fully exposed, and feed on living angiosperm plants.
The following species are representative species of the Pterophoridae moths that have been photographed on the island of Crete. You can obtain more information about each species, by selecting the relative species icon. The list of Pterophoridae species is nondefinitive.