lucerne moth

(Nomophila nearctica)

lucerne moth
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  Hodges #


Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Lucerne moth is a medium-sized moth, a large crambid moth. It occurs throughout the United States, across southern Canada, and in Mexico. It is common in Minnesota. Adults are found from April to November on low herbaceous plants in fields, lawns, roadsides, and weedy waste places. Larvae feed on the foliage of a large variety of low-growing plants, including alfalfa, clover, sweet clover, smartweed, and grasses.

Adults are narrow and long, (15 mm) in length. They have a wingspan of 1516 to 1 (24 to 35 mm).

The forewings are narrow, rounded at the tip, and brown, with darker, blackish-brown spots and streaks, and grayish-brown veins. There is a circular spot (orbicular spot) in the upper median area, a circular spot (claviform spot) between the orbicular spot and the inner margin, and a kidney-shaped spot (reniform spot) at the end of the discal cell. These spots have dark outlines and paler or slightly paler centers. The orbicular and claviform spots are large and closely spaced, sometimes converging into a single two-lobed spot. The median area sometimes has a small or large orangish patch, at least between the upper and lower spots. There is a dark line below the median area (postmedial of PM line). The PM line curves upward beyond the middle then angles sharply downward approaching the inner margin. There are four dark spots at the leading edge (costal margin) on the lower half of the wing, and a dark patch in the subterminal area near the costal margin. The outer margin has singular, narrowly triangular, forward-pointing spots between the veins. The fringe is banded white and dark brown. The hindwing is broader than the forewing. It is pale tan with gray streaks and dark brown veins but is otherwise unmarked. The fringe on the hindwing is white.

The antennae are slender and thread-like. The finger-like sensory organs (palps) attached to the mouth are long and densely hairy. They are projected forward, appearing like a fuzzy snout.

The caterpillar may be pale and reddish-brown or brownish-gray, or it may be dark and gray. The head is black. The thoracic shield is pale with two large black bumps that cover more than half of the upper surface. The legs on the thorax are pale. There is a narrow dark stripe in the middle (middorsal) of the thorax and abdomen bordered with white. On each abdominal segment there are two pairs of large black bumps on the upper side and a single similar but smaller bump in each side. Each bump has a few long erect hairs (setae).




Total length: (15 mm)

Wingspan: 1516 to 1 (24 to 35 mm)


Similar Species


Fields, lawns, roadsides, and weedy waste places




April to November




Adults hold their wings folded flat and overlapped when at rest. They are active at night and will come to lights.


Life Cycle




Larva Hosts


Foliage of a large variety of low-growing plants, including alfalfa, clover, sweet clover, smartweed, and grasses.


Adult Food




Distribution Map



21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 72, 75, 82.




Common in Minnesota



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Pyraloidea (pyralid and crambid snout moths)  


Crambidae (crambid snout moths)  





In 2009 the spelling of the genus name was changed from Nomophilia to Nomophila.




Nomophilia nearctica


Common Names


clover nomophila

lucerne moth (adult)

American Celery Webworm (caterpillar)

Celery Stalkworm (caterpillar)

False Webworm (caterpillar)









Claviform spot

A club-shaped, wedge-shaped, or round spot in the upper median area, between the orbicular spot and the inner margin, connected to the AM line, on the forewing of many moths.


Orbicular spot

A circular spot or outline in the upper median area near the antemedial line on the forewing of many moths.



Short for pedipalp. A segmented, finger-like process of an arthropod; one is attached to each maxilla and two are attached to the labium. They function as sense organs in spiders and insects, and as weapons in scorpions. Plural: palpi or palps.


Postmedial (PM) line

A thin line separating the median area and the postmedial area of the forewing of Lepidoptera.


Reniform spot

A kidney-shaped spot or outline in the lower median area near the PM line on the forewing of many moths.



A stiff, hair-like process on the outer surface of an organism. In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses: The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae. Adjective: setose.






Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon

    lucerne moth      





Lucerne Moth (Nomophila nearctica)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Lucerne Moth (Nomophila nearctica)  



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Other Videos
  Crambid Moth (Crambidae: Nomophila nearctica) on Blossom
Carl Barrentine

Sep 5, 2010

Photographed at Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (05 September 2010). Go here to learn more about this species:

  Lucerne Moth (Crambidae: Nomophila nearctica) Dorsal View
Carl Barrentine

Oct 13, 2011

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (09 October 2011). Thank you to Paul Dennehy ( for confirming the identity of this specimen!




Visitor Sightings

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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

lucerne moth  






Created: 12/21/2020

Last Updated:

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