Pug moths (Eupithecia)

2013 February 20

Continuing with the moths that came to the light on May 26, 2012, here are a couple of moths that are obviously closely related. One is darker gray with wings that look almost like they are made out of feathers:

And the second one has whiter wings, with brown spots on both the wings and abdomen

That pose, with the wings pointing almost straight out to the sides like airplane wings, is characteristic of what the Peterson Guide to Moths calls “Pugs”, in the genus Eupithecia. There are about 62 species of pugs that live in northern North America, and the first, grayer one could be any of several of them. For the second, whiter one, if I had to stick my neck out as to species I’d say it is the Common Pug, Eupithecia miserulata. It has the right number of dark spots along the leading edge of the wings, with an additional dark spot around the middle of the wing and set back from the edge. And, of course, it is evidently the most common of the pugs, so when one is in doubt the odds are that the species you have is the most common one.

Anyway, the common pug caterpillars sound like they eat pretty nearly any plant. Which is probably a big part of the reason they are so common.

3 Responses
  1. February 22, 2013

    We may have discussed this before, but looking at the photos, the first thing I think of is that they must be quiet in flight. The rough edges of their wings would act to dampen any noise.

  2. February 23, 2013

    What lovely fringed wings!

  3. February 25, 2013

    Yes, I’m pretty sure that the fringed wings that a lot of moths have account for the distinctive lack of noise of a flying moth compared to the buzz and clatter of flies, wasps, beetles, and other flying insects that don’t have fringed wings. It’s probably something that they specifically evolved to avoid nocturnal predators that hunt by sound, like bats.

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