N A T U R K U N D L I C H E S   I N F O R M A T I O N S S Y S T E M

Hepialus humuli humuli (Linné, 1758)

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Noctua humuli Linnaeus, 1758
Type locality: Sweden
Synonyms, misspellings, wrong determinations, etc.:

ghost moth
l´hépiale du houblon
eigentliche Hopfenmotte, Hopfenwurzelbohrer


: Salzburg, Hohe Tauern, Gastein valley, Sportgastein, Nassfeld, 1958.07.16, leg. Karl Mazzuko, coll. Haus der Natur, Salzburg : Salzburg, Lungau, Thomatal, 1975.06.26, leg. Leithner H., coll. Haus der Natur, Salzburg : Salzburg, Radstädter Tauern, posterior Rieding valley, 1970.07, leg. Mairhuber Fritz, coll. Haus der Natur, Salzburg  
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view

Description of adults: In both sexes, the small head bears simple and very short antennae. The wingspan of males is about 50 mm, that of females may exceed 70 mm. Fore- and hindwings of the male are silvery white on the upperside, without any further markings. In females, the forewings are ochreous with two more or less parallel rows of reddish brown dots. The hindwings are more or less reddish brown.


H. humuli humuli is distributed throughout Europe except the northern part of the British Isles, Portugal, the Tyrrhenian Archipelago, Sicily and some Balkan countries (Karsholt & Nieukerken 2004). In Asia, the species reaches the Middle East, as well as central and southern Siberia (Dubatolov 2009). The vertical distribution has been recorded from near sea level to about 2400 m a.s.l. in the Alps (Kurz et al. 2009).


Northern Tyrol, Ötztal, Obergurgl, 2007.06.08      
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view

In central Europe, the species inhabits open areas like grassland and tall herb vegetation, but also edges of woodland, gardens and parks. The imagines are on the wing from late May to early August (Heath 1983, Kurz et al. 2009). The males fly for a short period of time only in the evening, exuding pheromons in order to attract females.
Rarely the species is said to become harmful to cultures of hop, but normally is has no economic significance (Forster & Wohlfahrt 1960).

Stages in development:

Morphology of preimaginal stages (Forster & Wohlfahrt 1960).

Egg. The eggs are very small, elongate, tapering to both ends. Immediately after oviposition, they are yellowish white, becoming dark brown after about one day. The eggs are disseminated during the flight.

Larva. Fullfed, the larve is greyish to brownish white with brown head and yellow brown first thoracic sclerite. Additional yellow brown sclerotized spots are found on thoracic segments 2 and 3. The larva lives in a subterranean tunnel from August till May. She feeds on the roots of a variety of different herbaceaus plants and hibernates in the ground. Pupation takes place in the tunnel-like web too.

Pupa. The pupa is elongate, yellowish brown, somewhat darker in the anterior part and bears numerous spines. She is very agile.


-genitalia -genitalia    
Picture from: © Viette 1948, modified
Detailed view
Picture from: © Viette 1948, modified
Detailed view


Hepialus humuli thulensis Newman, 1865 from the northern part of the Bristish Isles normally is distinctly darker, the males mostly also showing irregular rows of dark spots on the forewing upperside. Otherwise, the typical ssp. is unmistakable within its distribution range.

Worth knowing:


Dubatolov, V. V. 2009. Collection of Siberian Zoological Museum: Hepialidae. http://szmn.sbras.ru/Lepidop/Hepial.htm [online 4 August 2009].
Forster W. & Th. A. Wohlfahrt 1960. Die Schmetterlinge Mitteleuropas, 3, Bombyces & Sphinges, Franckh´sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart
Heath, J. 1983. The moths and butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol.I: Micropterigidae – Heliozelidae. – Harley Books, Martins, Great Horkesley, Colchester, Essex.
Karsholt, O. & E. J. van Nieukerken 2004. Hepialidae. In - Karsholt, O. & E. J. van Nieukerken (eds.). Lepidoptera, Moths. – Fauna Europaea version 1.1, http://www.faunaeur.org [online 16 May 2008].
Kurz, M. A., M. E. Kurz & H. C. Zeller-Lukashort 2000–2009. Naturkundliches Informationssystem. – URL: http://www.nkis.info [online August 24, 2009].
Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae, Ed. X. (Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.) Holmiae. Systema Nat. ed. 10 i-ii + 1-824

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2001.04.23
Kurz Michael: 2006.01.07
Kurz Michael: 2009.08.24
Kurz Michael: 2010.01.06
Kurz Michael: 2012.02.04
not reviewed