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White Plume Moth (Pterophorus pentadactyla)

The white plume moth can be easily recognized from its unique-looking white wings, similar to feathery plumes, giving it its name. Carl Linnaeus first described it in 1758 as Aciptilia pentadactyla, translating to five fingers in Greek.

White Plume Moth


Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pterophoridae
  • Genus: Pterophorus
  • Scientific Name: Pterophorus pentadactyla

Description and Identification


The larva has a greenish body in the beginning, developing long, white hairs in the second instar stage. Eventually, the hair length shortens, and black hairs combine the white ones. Matured larvae are of a yellowish-green coloration.

White Plume Moth Caterpillar



The rectangular-shaped around 6.5 mm pupa has a pointed abdominal tip. Their dorsal and ventral regions appear dark and light green, respectively; the pupal phase lasts five days.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.

Color and AppearanceWhen opened and closed, the wings of this species appear entirely white. The forewings have two white feathery plumes, while the hindwings have three of them, not prominently visible when the wings are folded.

Average wingspan: 26-34 mm

Flight pattern: Consistent

Season: June to August

Pterophorus pentadactyla



The eggs are white when first laid, turning green upon hatching. A female can lay from 25- 130 eggs, attaching them to a leaf surface by secreting a cemented substance.

Quick Facts

DistributionParts of Europe mainly in Great Britain, throughout the Middle East spreading as far as Iran
HabitatDry grassland, waste ground, and gardens
PredatorsBats and birds
Lifespan of Adults3 months
Host PlantsPlants of the bindweed family
Adult DietNectar

Did you know

The caterpillars are a threat to sweet potato crops in certain parts of the world, like Nigeria.

White Plume Moth Image


White Plume Moth Picture


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