plume moths

(Hellinsia spp.)

plume moth (Hellinsia sp.)
Photo by Babette Kis

Hellinsia is a very large genus of plume moths. It has a worldwide distribution, but it is common only in Europe and North America.

There are 348 Hellinsia species worldwide, 58 species in North America north of Mexico, and at least 5 species in Minnesota.

The larvae of some species are stem borers, while those of other species are leaf rollers.


Adults of most species are active at night and will come to lights. They are sometimes found resting on walls or on plants during the day. They rest with their wings spread out at right angles, in a T-shaped profile, like an airplane.


Hellinsia is a large genus of diverse species. They vary greatly in wing shape, ground color, and markings.

The forewings are narrow. The ground color is pure white, pale cream, pale yellow, pale tan, pale brown, or gray. There are two lobes at the tip. The first lobe either tapers to a narrow point or the whole lobe is narrow and linear. It does not have an anal angle or an outer margin. The second lobe on some species tapers to a narrow point at the tip, but on other species the wingtip is broad, and the outer margin is well developed and oblique.

The hindwing has three lobes.


Distribution Map



4, 24, 29, 30, 82, 83.



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Pterophoroidea (plume moths and allies)  


Pterophoridae (plume moths)  





The genus Hellinsia was formerly placed in the tribe Pterophorini.


Subordinate Taxa


Arizona plume moth (Hellinsia integratus)

austere plume moth (Hellinsia auster)

Baboquivari plume moth (Hellinsia thoracica)

baccharis borer (Hellinsia balanotes)

black-marked plume moth (Hellinsia inquinatus)

brickellbush plume moth (Hellinsia mizar)

Bruce’s plume moth (Hellinsia brucei)

Cadmus’ plume moth (Hellinsia cadmus)

Caudell’s plume moth (Hellinsia caudelli)

chlorias plume moth (Hellinsia chlorias)

citrites plume moth (Hellinsia citrites)

Cochise plume moth (Hellinsia cochise)

confusing plume moth (Hellinsia confusus)

coyote brush borer (Hellinsia grandis)

deceptive plume moth (Hellinsia falsus)

disorderly plume moth (Hellinsia inconditus)

Elliot’s plume moth (Hellinsia elliottii)

Eros’ plume moth (Hellinsia eros)

everlasting plume moth (Hellinsia phoebus)

favored plume moth (Hellinsia gratiosus)

Field’s plume moth (Hellinsia fieldi)

Glenn’s plume moth (Hellinsia glenni)

goldenrod plume moth (Hellinsia kellicottii)

Habeck’s plume moth (Hellinsia habecki)

Hogue’s plume moth (Hellinsia hoguei)

Iobates’ plume moth (Hellinsia iobates)

ironweed plume moth (Hellinsia paleaceus)

Linus’ plume moth (Hellinsia linus)

Lone Star plume moth (Hellinsia venapunctus)

long-harped plume moth (Hellinsia arion)

lost plume moth (Hellinsia perditus)

mediocre plume moth (Hellinsia medius)

Meyrick’s plume moth (Hellinsia meyricki)

milky plume moth (Hellinsia lacteodactylus)

pale-edged plume moth (Hellinsia costatus)

pale-yellow plume moth (Hellinsia corvus)

Pan’s plume moth (Hellinsia pan)

Paradise plume moth (Hellinsia luteolus)

plain plume moth (Hellinsia homodactylus)

Pollux’s plume moth (Hellinsia pollux)

rigid-harped plume moth (Hellinsia rigidus)

sagewort borer (Hellinsia subochraceus)

Santa Catalina Island plume (Hellinsia catalinae)

serene plume moth (Hellinsia serenus)

simplest plume moth (Hellinsia simplicissimus)

snout plume moth (Hellinsia longifrons)

straw-colored plume moth (Hellinsia angustus)

sulphur plume moth (Hellinsia sulphureodactylus)

sunflower plume moth (Hellinsia helianthi)

thunder plume moth (Hellinsia thor)

tinged plume moth (Hellinsia tinctus)

Triton’s plume moth (Hellinsia triton)

trixis plume moth (Hellinsia ares)

twisted harpe plume moth (Hellinsia contortus)

unmarked plume moth (Hellinsia unicolor)

variable plume moth (Hellinsia varius)

varioid plume moth (Hellinsia varioides)

white-lobed plume moth (Hellinsia albilobata)










Common Names


This genus has no common name. The common name of the family Pterophoridae is plume moths, and it is used here for convenience.












Anal angle

The angle at the corner formed where the outer and inner margins meet.






Visitor Photos

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Babette Kis


Hellinsia sp. plume moth

Hellinsia plume moth, Milwaukee, WI, photo taken June 6, 2018. Moth came to the porch light.

  plume moth (Hellinsia sp.)  





Genus Hellinsia
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Genus Hellinsia  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Plume Moth (Pterophoridae: Hellinsia or Oidaematophorus?) on Wall
Carl Barrentine

Jun 5, 2011

I'd love to learn the genus for this specimen. Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (04 June 2011). Go here to see other examples of plume moths:

  LEPIDOPTERE / Pterophoridae / Hellinsia ...?! BRUITX

Oct 21, 2016

Observations et Enregistrements réalisés au bord du lac Vänern dans la réserve naturelle d'Ekenäs en Suède : Mi Juillet 2016 ! Peut être Hellinsia pectodactylus !!




Visitor Sightings

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  Babette Kis

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Hellinsia plume moth, Milwaukee, WI, photo taken June 6, 2018. Moth came to the porch light.

plume moth (Hellinsia sp.)







Created: 12/27/2023

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