orangehoof's picture

Many-Plumed Moth

Observed: 9th April 2011 By: orangehooforangehoof’s reputation in Invertebratesorangehoof’s reputation in Invertebratesorangehoof’s reputation in Invertebratesorangehoof’s reputation in Invertebrates
IMGP0040 (2)

Body about 5mm long.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Alucita hexadactyla interacts


anonymous spotter's picture

Twenty-Plume Moth

for the taxonomically-challenged (like me).

DavidSlade's picture

Many-plumed Moth

It's a silly English name - there are 24 plumes, not 20. I don't know why this name became more popular than 'Many-plumed Moth', but I will continue my crusade to popularise the alternative!

JamieDunning's picture

I too have read that

I too have read that David.
We should boycott it as a community. haha

- Jamie

ophrys's picture

Alucita hexadactyla

Alucita means 'gnat'. It was originally applied to the Plume moths and to craneflies (which hold their wings open, like a plume). When the plumes became Pterophorus, Alucita was assigned to some of the feathery-winged Tineae, instead. That fell into disuse and it was then revived as a name for the 'many-plumed' family, but the wrong half of the family (!), the ones looking less like craneflies.

hexadactyla means 'six-fingered', as each wing has a sexpartite division.

Maitland Emmet is a mine of information on things like this, and would join your campaign, as he says "Some innumerate Englishman called it 'the twenty-plume moth'!

[It is also possible that the 'hex' part refers not to the fact that each of the four wings has six fingers,but to the fact that Linnaeus named his six species of plume moth in order as monodactyla, bidactyla, tridactyla...etc. Therefore, this species was just 6th on his list! Certainly the other names have no reference to the number of plumes...]


My Flickr photos...

DavidHowdon's picture

Plume numbers

Although Emmet also suggests that the numbers in the scientific names of the plumes are about the order in which Linnaeus named them. So it could just as well mean 'plume moth number 6' rather than referring to any particular six features on the moth.

Certainly it is less clear there is anything particularly one-ish about Emmelina monodactyla.

David Howdon

JamieDunning's picture

You ophrys seem to be a mine

You ophrys seem to be a mine of information!
That is very interesting, I did often wonder why the plumes were named how they are, very insightful. thank you.

- Jamie