Plume moths are instantly recognizable by their T-shaped silhouette and muted shades of tan and brown. At rest, the moths hold their wings tightly rolled, but when they are spread, the deeply cleft slits in the wing margins that create the feathery plumes are visible. These moths are slim and delicate-looking, with a long, thin abdomen and extremely long, fragile legs. Their flight is weak and fluttery. It can be hard to distinguish among the many species of plume moths.
Caterpillars are variously colored and are commonly equipped with long, fine hairs or bristles.
Habitat and Conservation
The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. Plume moths are apparently relished by many predators (such as birds) that hunt by sight — we can deduce this by the remarkably convincing camouflage of both larva and adults, which resemble small sticks or pieces of grass.
Consider how little plume moths match our usual concept of "moths": they have thin and delicate, not big and chunky bodies; they often fly during the day; they hold their wings in an odd position. It is a reminder that the order Lepidoptera, which embraces all the moths and butterflies, is huge and diverse, with many, many moth groups that are as different from each other as butterflies are from other moths.