What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

crucifix window bug
January 9, 2010
Hi Bugman, Today we found this interesting looking creature parked on our window, in San Rafael, CA. It seems as if it has horns on the end of its ‘wings’. My friend calls it a ‘blood sucking satan fly’ but I don’t think such a thing exist. Another friend thought it was a reincarnation of Jesus on the crucifix. Sorry for the bad photograph, I was afraid to get closer / it biting me.
thanks in advance, jasmine
san rafael, ca, usa

Morning Glory Plume Moth

Morning Glory Plume Moth

Hi Jasmine,
This is a Morning Glory Plume Moth, Emmelina monodactyla, and despite your friends’ theories, it is neither a maleficent nor a divinely benevolent species.  It will not suck your blood, nor is it representative of a miraculous event.  Many people call it a T Bug or T Moth.  It is a European species that was introduced to North America and it has spread from coast to coast.  The UK Moths website has some good information, including:  “One of the commonest of the ‘Plume’ moths all over Britain, and one of the few to be found in the early part of the year, as the adults occur in all months.  Like most of the Pterophoridae, the wings are cleft or divided, but this can be difficult to see, as the moth often rests with the wings rolled up tightly. The wing colour is usually pale brownish, but can be darker. Each pair of spurs on the hind legs has one spur longer than the other. The abdomen has a pale buff dorsal longitudinal band with brown streaks along the midline.  It occurs in any suitable habitat where the larval foodplants, bindweeds (Convolvulus and Calystegia spp.), occur. Larvae have also been reported occasionally on Morning glory (Ipomoea), Chenopodium spp. and Atriplex spp. They feed in two overlapping generations on leaves and flowers from late May to September.

Wow, this is AMAZING!!
thank you so much for clearing up the mystery!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

7 Responses to Morning Glory Plume Moth

  1. rick hager says:

    Have seen these feeding on western sandcherry in backyard.

  2. lotusgreen says:

    I have a few of these hanging out around the porchlight each night, lately — most just over an inch, but occasionally smaller. I also have a lot of Morning Glory. In any case, I’m wondering if you know about their eggs — I’m in Berkeley, California — might I start seeing them now? What do they look like? And what are they likely to be on? The Morning Glory????
    — oh and — you say “late May to September.” Would that include California? Thank you!

  3. lotusgreen says:

    PS It really does look like Christ by Giacometti.

  4. rai says:

    Just found one of these on the ceiling of my apartment in Seattle. Its an inoffensive insect, sat there for a day, moved about 6 feet in the night and was in a different spot on the ceiling in the morning.

    No idea what it was, and Google wasn’t helping because I had no idea how to describe it. So I got a broom and gently tapped it hoping it’d climb aboard for a closer look. To my surprise it started flying. Once I realized it was a moth, I typed “airplane moth” into Google and found it. Cool bug, lived in WA my entire life, never seen one before.

  5. lotusgreen says:

    You’re lucky. I see them all the time, but I’ve never seen one fly! So I have never seen the “plume”!

  6. Allen says:

    I’ve seen the morning glory on my storm door glass . south west Ohio.

  7. elaine says:

    Hi, I live in rural Wales. I have never seen one of these before this morning. As I was washing my face, one landed on my nose ! I was puzzled initially, as I’ve never seen a stick insect fly before. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

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