Plume Moth Facts You’ll Never Forget

Informative plume moth facts to know this species better.

The butterflies and moths of order Lepidoptera are branched into 126 families, out of these the family Pterophoridae is also known as a plume moth. The family is further divided into four subfamilies namely, Agdistinae, Deuterocopinae, Ochyroticinae, and Pterophorinae’which incorporates over 1000 species of moths. In North America, there are more than 160 species of plume moths. Plume moths repose during the daytime and they are active during the night but they can be spotted near pollen sources even in the daytime frequently. These moths are distinguished from other moths because of the dissection of their wing which looks like plumes and is how they got their name. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between Alucidtidae and plume moths as they closely resemble each other. The snapdragon plume moth (Stenoptilodes antirrhina) of genus Stenoptilodes and the geranium plume moth (Amblyptilia pica) of genus Amblyptilia can damage plants, especially those that are grown for ornamental purposes in garden such as the snapdragon plant.

Keep reading this article for more information about plume moths. Also, check out our other articles on gypsy moth and luna moth.

Plume Moth

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

5-50 eggs

How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

0.2-1.5 in (6-40 mm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown, gray, cream, and white

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Birds, mammals, and climate change

What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them

Outdoors, gardens, and hedges


Worldwide especially North America





Scientific Name

Stenoptilodes antirrhina Platyptilia pica Emmelina monodactyla




Agdistis, Ochyrotica, Platyptiliini, and Emmelina

Plume Moth Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a plume moth?

A plume moth or Pterophoridae is in the family which consists of moths of order Lepidoptera.

What class of animal does a plume moth belong to?

Plume moths belong to the family Pterophoridae.

How many plume moths are there in the world?

Plume moth is the name of the family, and the family comprises different subfamilies, genera, tribes, and over 1000 species. Therefore it is hard to determine their exact number.

Where does a plume moth live?

Plume moths exist all around the globe except for Antarctica. There are over 160 species of plume moths that exist in North America.

What is a plume moth's habitat?

The habitat of plume moths may vary from gardens to woodlands to mixed hedges. They prefer warmth and mostly repose during the daytime and are active during the night.

Who do plume moths live with?

It is not known whether plume moths are solitary or prefer to exist in groups.

How long does a plume moth live?

Plume moths have distinctive stages. The first stage is the incubation period which lasts about two to three days, then it is the larvae period which is the longest phase, then comes the pre-pupal and pupal period which lasts for one to two days and six to nine days respectively and then the adult stage which is about five to seven days. Their average life span is about 28 to 35 days.

How do they reproduce?

Adult plume moths reproduce offsprings through the process of mating. The eggs are laid on either pods, leaves, or flowers and the incubation period is two to three days.

What is their conservation status?

The family of plume moths have several species scattered all over the world. Some species are more widely available than others but their precise conservation status is not listed. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, plume moths have a status of Not Evaluated.

Plume Moth Fun Facts

What do Plume Moths look like?

The unusual T-shape structure of plume moths distinguishes them from other moths. Their slender body has a wing division and the wings of adults on their anterior part have two spars that bend over with dishevelled bristles. Their forewings and hindwings are differentiated by the presence of three spars located in the hindwings. The legs of plume moths are weak and their color may vary according to their species and their wingspan is under 2 in (5.1 cm). A geranium plume moth (Amblyptilia pica) of genus Amblyptilia has gray wings and a wingspan of 0.7–0.9 in (1.7-2.2 cm) while Platyptilia carduidactyla, or artichoke plume moths of genus Platyptilia, has a wingspan of 0.7–1.2 in (1.7-3 cm). The wings of white plume moths are completely white and their wings are feathered. Due to their shape, plume moths are often bewildered by the many plumed moth but this family has more uniform plumes.

An adult plume moth’s body is slender and its legs are fragile.

How cute are they?

Some can find these insects cute, while others may not.

How do they communicate?

Males and females of this species have distinctive ways of communicating with each other during mating, which is initiated by the release of pheromones by females.

How big is a plume moth?

Plume moths are uniquely shaped tiny creatures with a wingspan of 2 in (5 cm). The size of an average caterpillar is approximately 0.3 in (0.7 cm) long with tapered ends.

How fast can plume moths fly?

The speed depends on the wings, however, the wings of plume moths are not as broad as other insects.  Plume moths are not very fast and their exact speed is not known.

How much does a plume moth weigh?

Plume moths are T-shaped small insects and their average weight cannot be determined.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no names assigned separately for male and female members of this species.

What would you call a baby plume moth?

Their life cycle is divided into many stages. They start their life as eggs and metamorphosize into adults. Before they become adults, they are caterpillars and survive on plants for food.

What do they eat?

Plume moths are herbivores and feed on plants, flowers, nectar, pollen, and leaves. The larvae of different species may feed on different substances for example the larvae of Geina tenuidactyla consume the leaves and buds of thimbleberry, while Emmelina monodactyla mainly eat bindweed as their food source. When plume moths are caterpillars, they do most of the eating as adults do not live for a prolonged period.

Are they dangerous?

Caterpillars are often dangerous as they can damage plants and crops, just like a pest.

Would they make a good pet?

Their wings, legs, and overall physical structure are very delicate and so they are not suitable to be kept as pets.

Did you know...

Fossils have been found for the genus Merrifielda from the Oligocene epoch.

What are the different types of plume moths?

There are over 1000 species of plume moths and some of the species include the morning glory plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla ) of genus Emmelina which can be found in North-America, Japan, North Africa, and Europe. They are reddish-brown in color. The artichoke plume moth of genus Platyptilia is found in North America, New Zealand, and Mexico. They can cause potential damage and females lay eggs on the bottom side of artichoke plants. The Himmelman’s plume moth (Geina tenuidactyla) can be found in the states of California, Nevada, New York, and Mississippi  are recognized by their unique shape, long antenna, and checkered antennas.

Do plume moths sting?

Whether plume moths sting is not yet known.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including banded tussock moth, or damselfly.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our plume moth coloring pages.



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