Appearance

Hepialus humuli  is one of the largest micro moths in Europe.

  • Female: reaches a wingspan of 80mm
  • Male: is usually slightly smaller

Both sexes:

  • sit with their long, narrow wings held roof-like along the body while at rest
  • have very short and thin antennae

Colouring and markings

On continental Europe and mainland Britain the sexes of Hepialus humuli are very different:

  • Females: pale buff with a series of pale pink markings on the forewing
  • Males: silvery white without any markings

The subspecies Hepialus humuli thulensis occurs on the Shetlands and Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic.

  • Females: darker hind wings than normal females, but are otherwise similar
  • Males: vary greatly:
    • Some are identical to males from the mainland
    • Some are superficially identical to females
    • Others are virtually any variation in between
  • Hepialus humuli thulensis
    Why does this variation occur?

    The reasons for the extraordinary variation seen for Hepialus humuli thulensis males are not fully understood. But it seems likely that at least 3 different evolutionary processes are involved. Find out more.