Do Plume Moths Bite? Unraveling the Mystery

Plume moths are unique insects known for their T-shaped silhouette and muted colors. Resting with their wings tightly rolled, these delicate moths have a slim body and long, fragile legs. When it comes to the question of whether plume moths bite, it’s important to clarify that adult moths and butterflies do not sting or bite.

However, when discussing the potential for bites or stings, we should consider their larval stage. Plume moth larvae, just like other moth and butterfly caterpillars, can cause skin irritations or reactions in some cases. These reactions are collectively known as “Lepidopterism” and are specifically caused by contact with larvae or caterpillars, not the adult form of the insects.

Do Plume Moths Bite?

Biting vs Non-Biting Species

Plume Moths are delicate-looking insects with T-shaped silhouettes and muted shades of tan and brown 〰️. As moths, they belong to the Lepidoptera order. These moths have a non-biting proboscis, which they use to feed on flower nectar.

In comparison, biting insects like ants have mandibles for biting and stinging 〰️.

Moths vs Ants:

Insect Biting Feeding Mechanism
Moth No Proboscis
Ant Yes Mandibles

Allergic Reactions and Skin Irritations

Although Plume Moths don’t bite, some people might experience skin irritations or allergic reactions from contact with other moth species in rare cases. This condition, known as Lepidopterism, could result in:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Swelling

However, Plume Moths aren’t known to cause such reactions.

Characteristics of Plume Moths

Morphology and Wingspan

Plume moths are recognized by their unique morphology and muted shades of tan and brown. Their slim, delicate appearance and long, thin abdomens contrast with their extremely long, fragile legs. These moths possess a wingspan ranging from 10 to 50 millimeters.

Features of plume moths include:

  • T-shaped silhouette
  • Muted shades of tan and brown
  • Slim and delicate-looking body
  • Long, thin abdomen
  • Extremely long, fragile legs

Moths and Butterflies Comparison

It’s easy to distinguish plume moths from butterflies through their antennae. Butterflies have club-shaped antennae with a long shaft and a bulb at the end, while moth antennae are feathery or saw-edged.

Feature Butterflies Moths
Antennae Club-shaped Feathery or saw-edged
Active during Daytime Nighttime (mostly)

Family Pterophoridae and Genus

Plume moths belong to the family Pterophoridae, which has around 160 species in North America. The distinguishing characteristic of this family is their deeply divided wings, which form fringed lobes. Hind wings typically have three lobes, while forewings have two.

Pterophoridae characteristics:

  • Deeply divided wings with fringed lobes
  • Hind wings with three lobes
  • Forewings with two lobes

Habitat and Diet

Geographic Distribution

Plume moths are found throughout North America and have a distinct T-shaped silhouette. They inhabit various ecosystems, depending on the availability of food sources.

Food Sources

The diet of plume moths varies based on their life stage:

  • Larvae: As caterpillars, plume moths feed on plants such as snapdragons and bindweed.
  • Adults: Plume moths primarily consume nectar from flowers while indirectly collecting and transferring pollen.

Comparison of food sources:

Life Stage Food Sources
Larvae Snapdragons, bindweed
Adults Nectar from various flowers

Ecosystem Roles

Plume moths play crucial roles in their ecosystems:

  • Pollination: Adult plume moths are important for moth pollination, particularly for nocturnal flowers.
  • Food source: As caterpillars, they provide sustenance for predators in the ecosystem.

Key ecosystem roles:

  • Pollination
  • Providing food for predators

Natural Enemies and Controlling Infestations

Predators and Biological Control

Some natural enemies of plume moths include mice, birds, and predatory insects. These predators help in controlling infestations by feeding on plume moth eggs and larvae. Additionally, some specialized wasps and fly species attack plume moths as parasitoids.

Biological control can be an effective, eco-friendly method for controlling plume moth infestations. Some benefits of using biological controls include:

  • Reducing the need for chemical pesticides
  • Minimizing potential harm to non-target species
  • Promoting long-term pest suppression

Home and Garden Management

To manage plume moth infestations in your home and garden, consider the following steps:

  • Inspect regularly: Check plants for signs of infestation, such as eggs or larvae.
  • Hand-picking: Remove pests by hand when possible, placing them in a container of water to dispose of them.
  • Natural repellents: Use non-toxic or organic repellents that deter plume moths without harming beneficial insects.
  • Moth-zapper: Install a moth-zapper in your garden to attract and kill adult moths.

Here’s a comparison table to help you decide which method best suits your needs:

Method Pros Cons
Hand-picking No chemicals, eco-friendly Time-consuming, not practical for large infestations
Natural repellents Low environmental impact, generally safe May require frequent reapplication, effectiveness may vary
Moth-zapper Efficient, low maintenance Can also kill beneficial insects, may not be as effective in winter

Remember to choose a control method that aligns with your goals, and consider using multiple strategies for the best results.

Impact on Humans and Materials

Moths vs. Fabrics and Pantry Items

Moths typically do not bite humans, but they can cause damage to certain materials in your home. Some moths, like clothes moths, target natural fibers such as wool and cotton in clothing and carpets. Pantry moths, on the other hand, infest grains, fruits, and other stored food items.

Fabrics at risk:

  • Wool
  • Cotton

Pantry items at risk:

  • Grains
  • Fruits

Dealing with Infestations in the Home

It is essential to address moth infestations promptly to minimize damage to your belongings and to ensure a healthy living environment. Some people may experience allergies to moths, so it is important to take necessary precautions.

Steps to deal with moth infestations:

  1. Identify the type of moth (clothes moths or pantry moths).
  2. Inspect and clean affected areas.
  3. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove moth eggs, larva, and adult moths.
  4. Wash and sanitize clothing, carpets, and pantry items.
  5. Seal grains and other pantry items in airtight containers.
  6. Check for moth activity regularly.
Clothes Moths Pantry Moths
Target natural fibers (wool, cotton) Target stored food items (grains, fruits)
Damage clothing and carpets Contaminate pantry items
Can cause allergic reactions May not cause allergic reactions

In conclusion, plume moths do not bite, but other types of moths can cause damage to fabrics and pantry items in your home. By following these steps, you can effectively deal with moth infestations and protect your belongings.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Plume Moth

 

T-shaped creature
Location:  Austin, TX
October 16, 2010 11:12 pm
I found this on the window of a restaurant. Never seen anything quite like it. It was moving only slightly, and a while later I looked again and it was gone, I’d like to know where it keeps its wings…
Got top and bottom pictures by virtue of the glass. I’d say it was about an inch square.
Signature:  hcs

Plume Moth

Hi hcs,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.

Plume Moth

Letter 2 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: never seen this before
Location: southern CA 92407
December 10, 2015 10:50 pm
Just so very curious…..
Signature: Holly Andrade

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Dear Holly,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.

Letter 3 – Plume Moth

 

Subject:  Odd bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Washington State, USA
Date: 12/15/2017
Time: 08:07 PM EDT
Weird looking bug, body shaped like a T with the head just above the cross section. I believe 4 legs, which is odd for an insect like thing, two antennae I think, and two small extensions off the end of the main body. It’s about the area of a quarter and has been hanging out on my door frame for at least 24 hours. It’s December 15th, about 4:30pm when I took the photos.
How you want your letter signed:  Tim Davis

Plume Moth

Dear Tim,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae, and based on this and other BugGuide images, we believe it is a Morning Glory Plume Moth.

Letter 4 – Plume Moth

 

Mosquito-Moth looking insect?
Location: western New York state
June 3, 2011 8:50 am
Hi, I found this insect taking a break on the outside of our storm door this morning. It appears to have a mosquito body with weird moth-like wings and a curved up tail…I’ve never seen anything like this. Oh, I forgot to get a picture of this, but the legs all came straight down from the thorax to a central grouping, then went outwards. Kinda made it look like the insect had a deeply keeled chest.
I can generally guess the Order of an insect, and often narrow it down to Family when attempting to look one up – but this one has me stumped.
It’s a chilly morning today (even with it being June!), below 60F right now. I think it was trying to warm up in the sun – certainly didn’t mind me taking photos or jostling the door.
Anyways, I’d love to know what genus and/or species this critter is. Thanks in advance!
Signature: Kimberely

Plume Moth

Hi Kimberly,
We get countless requests to identify Plume Moths in the family Pterophoridae, and your creature is a member of that family.  Often those identification requests include the graphic description “T Bug” and most members of this family are characterized by their unusual wing formation which causes the insect to resemble the letter T.  Trying to get your individual identified to the genus or species level might be difficult.  BugGuide is a good place to begin that task.  Since we will be out of the office for a week in mid June, we are preparing your letter to go live to our site on June 14.

Plume Moth

Letter 5 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: Cool Bug
Location: Tustin, CA
December 9, 2012 5:48 pm
This was on the door to my garage. Kind of looked like a moth, with sort of fuzzy wings.
Signature: Curious Bug Lady

Plume Moth

Dear Curious Bug Lady,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.  We are uncertain of the species.  Many folks inquire about the “T-Bug” when they request the identification of a Plume Moth.

Letter 6 – Plume Moth

 

T Shaped Bug
Hello, I have never seen this bug before. What is it?
Jeanne

Hi Jeanne,
We are surprised that so many people describe the Plume Moth as a T Bug, but cannot locate the name online based on the accurate description.

Letter 7 – Plume Moth

 

Can you identify this interesting bug?
I noticed it sitting on the wall of my old house in CT. I thought it was very interesting looking, so I grabbed my camera. I never had someone ID it. Any ideas? With our luck in that house, that was probably eating the wall in this photo. Thanks for your help!
Valerie Shade

Hi Valerie,
What a nice photo of a Plume Moth in the Family Pterophoridae. Your wall is quite safe, but some species are agricultural pests.

Letter 8 – Plume Moth

 

Whats that bug!!! please!
Hello, i have a been quite a regular visitor here and your site is really so intersting and fascinating, of course thanks to the contribution of people gorgeous macro shots and your knowledge of identifying those gorgeous color vibrant bugs & insects… i live in Syria and saw this bug/insect on my window screen, its the weirdest looking bug ever… sorry my photo looks overexposed even though it was underexposed to the maximum but couldnt provide better lighting other than the flash… can you please tell me whats that bug?
Kevin

Hi Kevin,
This is a Plume Moth, and we are quite sure that your Syrian specimen is different from the ones we have here in the U.S., but the shape of the moth is so distinctive and suggestive of the family Pterophoridae. Whenever we get a letter from someone describing the “T” bug, we are relatively certain it is a Plume Moth. Some species of Plume Moths are important agricultural pests.

Letter 9 – Plume Moth

 

a weird bug from Portland OR
I found this bug near my house and caught it for a closer look and a bit of a photoshoot. I still dont know what it is. I hope you do! thx-
john

Hi John,
We frequently get questions from people wanting to know what the T Bug is. This is a Plume Moth.

Letter 10 – Plume Moth

 

Unknown Bug
Hello,
many thanks for your great website and service. Can you help us to identify this bug? Please see the attached pic. We live in Western Austria.Thank you very much
Hartmut Haefele

Hi Hartmut,
We get many letters from people who want to know what the “T Bug” is. It is a species of Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.

Letter 11 – Plume Moth

 

what is this bug?
This bug is in Washington State. Do you know what it is
Amanda

Hi Amanda,
This is a Plume Moth. We have been getting numerous photos from around the world lately of different species of Plume Moths.

Letter 12 – Morning Glory Plume Moth

 

Greetings! What’s my bug?
Hi! Love the site; this is my first opportunity to ask about a bug. We live near Philadelphia, and even though the area gets, well, buggy, we rarely see anything of note — certainly nothing in the same ballpark as the gorgeous shots readers send in. In May we saw two luna moths, and in November I found this on an outside door. A span (legs? wings?) of maybe two inches. Couldn’t quite figure it out. Help!
Matthew Budman
Haverford, Pa.

Hi Matthew,
Often people write ask inquiring about the T Bug which, in reality, is a Plume Moth. Some species of Plume Moths are agricultural pests. There are many species of Plume Moth and we believe this to be a Morning Glory Plume Moth, Emmelina monodactyla, based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 13 – Many Plumed Moth from Australia

 

The most beautiful moth ever?
Sun, Oct 19, 2008 at 10:47 PM
Hi guys,
I just photographed this tiny diaphenous moth on the mudguard of my car and had to share it with you. I’ve sent it to you in a large picture size as the specks make it hard to see detail when it is downsized. The background is the green metallic paint of my car, the moth is only about 1cm wingtip to wingtip. I am blown away by how beautiful it is and so delicate, it is one of the most beautiful moths I have ever seen. Hopefully someone knows what it is.
aussietrev
Queensland, Australia

Many Plume Moth from Australia
Many Plume Moth from Australia

Hi Trevor,
WE are quite certain this is a Many-Plume Moth in the family Orneodidae, but we haven’t the time to research an exact species. With our current internet problems due to a weak Time Warner signal that the cable company is having problems correcting, we cannot do any further research at the moment. Our very old edition of An Introduction to Entomology by John Henry Comstock states: “These insects resemble the Plume-Moths in having the wings fissured; but her the fissuring is carried to a much greater extent than in that family, each wing being divided into six plumes.” Perhaps this information will help with an exact identification.

Update:
ID for that Plume Moth
Hi Guys,
found an ID for the plume moth, Alucita phricodes. Thanks for posting the picture. Queensland, Australia

Hi Trevor,
We always like linking to other images and information online, and we were quite surprised to see your photo already posted to the Moths of Australia website.

Letter 14 – Many Plumed Moth from the UK

 

Subject: 1x moth and 1x bug V
Location: Manchester UK
July 27, 2013 2:34 am
Hi, I found the moth in my kitchen. I havent seen one with the ribbing?? in its wings before, could you identify it. (sorry about poor picture).
the bug I find at my place of work, particularly in the summer. I think that is some kind of wood borer.
many thanks
Mike
Signature: Mike Bickley

Many Plumed Moth
Many Plumed Moth

Hi Mike,
We quickly identified your Many Plumed Moth,
Alucita hexadactyla, thanks to Norfolk Moths which states:  “The only British member of its family [Alucitidae]. Can occur any time between late winter and late autumn. Often found hibernating.  Gardens and woodland where foodplant (Honeysuckle) found.  Each wing is separated into 6 ‘plumes’, making the English name for this unusual little moth rather inaccurate!”

Thanks Daniel, really appreciate the ident. I have a lot of honeysuckle growing in my garden…….
regards
Mike

Letter 15 – Many Plumed Moth from Canada

 

Subject: Lots of them on the windows
Location: Columbia Valley, SE British Columbia . Canada
May 10, 2014 8:32 pm
Would like to learn what these are. Such fine looking wings
Signature: Larry

Many Plumed Moth
Many Plumed Moth

Hi Larry,
This is a gorgeous image of a Many Plumed Moth in the genus
Alucita.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae are associated with snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.; Caprifoliaceae) in the north, and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) in California” so we are deducing you must have those plants nearby to account for the large numbers of adult moths.

Thanks Daniel
Yes we have lots of snowberry growing in the meadows by our cabin, which the Ruffed Grouse love to eat in the fall.
Larry

Letter 16 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: bug shape like a T
Location: Idaho
February 17, 2015 11:36 am
What is it?
Signature: Carrie

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Hi Carrie,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.

Letter 17 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: What in the name of all that is holy…
Location: Atlanta, GA
March 12, 2015 7:24 pm
Well, we had a few warm days for early march, even saw some grasshoppers oustide. Saw this thing on why house. My first thought was “How does that even work?”
Signature: Caleb

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Dear Caleb,
This distinctive insect is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae, but we are not certain of the species.
  The wings form the top bar of the letter T, and we frequently get requests to identify T-Bugs.

Letter 18 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: Odd bodied filing insect
Location: Upstate New York
November 19, 2016 9:29 am
Hi,
I was out walking the dogs this morning, and on my way back in the front door I seen this little guy on the window. Being the curious person I am, I started surfing the Web trying to find an identifier that included this. We recently moved to upstate new York and have had some run ins with odd insects, can you help figure this one out for us?
Signature: Kricket

Possibly Morning Glory Plume Moth
Possibly Morning Glory Plume Moth

Dear Kricket,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.  As you can see on BugGuide, there are “147 species in 26 genera in North America.”  It might be the Morning Glory Plume Moth,
Emmelina monodactyla, based on this BugGuide page.  Our readers frequently refer to Plume Moths as T-Bugs.

Letter 19 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: Feathered Fly
Location: Minnesota
July 9, 2017 12:16 pm
This little guy is sitting on my patio door here in Minnesota. He doesn’t move. I have not seen a bug like this before or at least one with its wings open like this. I’m curious to know what it is.
Signature: Becky O

Plume Moth

Dear Becky O,
This is not a feathered fly.  It is a Plume Moth, a member of the family Pterophoridae, and upon glancing through BugGuide, we believe we may have identified the species as
Geina sheppardi.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on wild grape (Vitis).”

Letter 20 – Plume Moth

 

Subject:  What the?
Geographic location of the bug:  LA
Date: 09/18/2017
Time: 11:21 AM EDT
My friend posted this on Facebook trying to figure out what this is
How you want your letter signed:  My friend posted this on Facebook trying to figure out what this is

Plume Moth

This is one of the most beautiful images we have seen of a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae. 

Letter 21 – Plume Moth

 

Subject:  Strange Maybe-moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Philadelphia, PA USA
Date: 12/24/2018
Time: 05:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I forgot I’d taken this photo – it was taken on September 13th or 14th. This insect was on a door.
How you want your letter signed:  curious citizen in Philly

Plume Moth

Dear Curious Citizen in Philly,
This is indeed a Moth.  More specifically it is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.

 

Letter 22 – Plume Moth

 

Subject:  What’s this bug
Geographic location of the bug:  North central New Mexico
Date: 07/31/2021
Time: 03:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We live in the high plains east of Albuquerque and found this stranger in our covered entry. Any idea what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Jane

Plume Moth

Out Automated Response:  Thank you for submitting your identification request.
Please understand that we have a very small staff that does this as a labor of love. We cannot answer all submissions (not by a long shot). But we’ll do the best we can!

I can only imagine! Thank you for your interest — if you get to our insect, we’ll be thrilled. If not, we’ll keep trying to find out ourselves!
Thank you!

Dear Cheryl,
Many folks who write to us wanting a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae identified frequently refer to them as “T-Bugs“.  According to the Missouri Department of Conservation:  “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.”

 

Letter 23 – Plume Moth

 

WTB
I’ve asked many people about this little guy. Nobody seems to know what he/she is, or what it’s job is. I found him/her resting on my screen door in the middle of the day. Very docile and cooperative. Posed for many pictures. Any ideas? I have other angles if you need them to make a determination. Thanks in advance. Ref: copyright stamp…You have my permission to use this image on your website if you wish.
Jim Holman

Hi Jim,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae. Some species are agricultural pests. We’ve cropped your photo slightly but have replaced your copyright mark.

Letter 24 – Plume Moth

 

What’s that bug?
Just spotted at our door yesterday, 10/2/2004 around 5:00 pm PDT.
Know what is it?
Thanks,
Mac

Hi Mac,
You have a species of Plume Moth from the Family Pterophoridae. Sorry I can’t give you an exact species name.

Letter 25 – Plume Moth

 

T-Shaped Bug
Hi,
This fluttered out when I was raking the grass. I can’t tell if its wings are folded, or those "arms" are its wings. Can you please tell me what it is? thanks,
Stewart C. Russell
Scarborough, ON

Hi Stewart,
Plume Moths have a very distict wing form, which your photograph nicely illustrates. Plume Moths are in the family Pterophoridae.

Letter 26 – Plume Moth

 

Unidentified insect-like creature from Germany
Hello,
attached you find a photo of an insect-like creature that i took in Göttingen, Germany. It seems to have only four legs and some sort of solid structure instead of wings. Could it be a larva? It was sitting in the shadow on a wall of the large building. Please excuse the bad quality of the photo, i took it with my cell phone.Thank You and keep up your great work!
Christian Mahnke

Hi Christian,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae. We often get requests from people who want to know what the T Bug is.

Letter 27 – Plume Moth

 

Coastal bug
Hi Bugman-
I sent you this message and picture last October when everyone else was sending bug photos too. You were too busy to give me an answer. So I thought I might ask you again now when the bugs are mostly hiding from the cold. I hope that you are no longer too busy to check it out for me. I still can’t find it in a book anywhere. The wings are four and quite narrow. The wingspan is about an inch and a half. It appears to have only four legs. There is a little furry spot above its eyes. Because I live in Norfolk Va on the Chesapeake Bay, I think it may be a salt marsh creature. What do you think? Nothing like it appears in any of my insect books. Thank you.
Rita Marlier

Hi Rita,
Sorry we have been so busy. This is a Plume Moth. We often get letters calling it the T Bug.

Letter 28 – Plume Moth

 

3 bugs, three views
The first two are of course the same bug (?)….on my backdoor screen in Skokie, Illinois this past summer. It stayed for hours letting me shoot it and i didn’t notice the stingers until i’d gotten the photos up on the computer (scary). The second bug (fly?) was on my window so this is the bottom of him. Do you know what they are?
Renee Rendler-Kapla

Hi Renee,
The insect represented by two photos is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae. Based on images posted to BugGuide, we believe it to be Himmelman’s Plume Moth, Geina tenuidactyla. The stingers are harmless. Your other insect is some species of Crane Fly.

Letter 29 – Plume Moth

 

Strangest bug I have ever seen
Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 3:03 PM
This picture was taken by a friend of mine and posted on my birding forum. No one there seems to know what it is. After going nuts looking through thousands of bug pictures, I came upon your site. I hope you can help me ID it.
Connie
Oil City, PA United States

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Hi Connie,
We are fascinated that this Plume Moth was posted on a birding forum, but thankfully, our readership has not given us any grief about posting our aquarium log on the What’s That Bug? site.  Plume Moths are in the family Pterophoroidea, and based on images posted to BugGuide, we believe this specimen is in the genus Geina, though we are uncomfortable giving an exact species identification as the members of the genus look quite similar.

Letter 30 – Plume Moth

 

Could this be a water midge?
August 12, 2009
I found this on the inside of my screen door this morning (outside Chicago) and was wondering what it was. It was not very active and took me about 20 minutes to coax it to fly out the door. It measured about 1/2 of an inch long and about 3/4 of an inch side-to-side (I don’t know if those are antennae or not). It appeared brownish in color, though the picture looks a little green. It was the only one I saw so there was no swarm. Do you know what it might be? Thanks.
Like It Bugless Inside
Wheaton, IL

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Dear Like It Bugless Inside,
We get numerous requests to identify the T-Bug, and it is actually a moth and not a midge.  This is some species of Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.  We only rarely attempt a species identification since so many members of the family look so similar to one another.
  You may read more about the family and its members on BugGuide which states:  “A distinctive family of moths, but difficult to identify to genus or species.”

Letter 31 – Plume Moth

 

Large winged white insect?
December 13, 2009
Hello, My mother (Gay Bumgarner) was a professional nature photographer and usually her materials are well labeled with both the common and latin names. However, for the picture I am attaching there is no information on the slide at all.
S. McDonnell MD
Uncertain

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Dear S. McDonnell MD,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae
, but we are uncertain of the species.

Wow, what a great service. Thanks! I will donate and tell my friends. Too bad we can’t do this in medicine
S

Dear S,
You are lucky to not be getting advice from untrained amateurs in medicine.

Letter 32 – Plume Moth

 

Moth about 2 1/2 inch wide, and 1 1/2 long
June 14, 2010
I just found your site through a link. And find it very interesting. I will have other bugs, I will post for ID in the future. I found this off white moth on my window casing. Can you help me find it’s name?
Bern
NB. Canada

Plume Moth

Hi Bern,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae.  Most people who write to us wanting the “T Bug” identified don’t even realize it is a moth.

Letter 33 – Plume Moth

 

weird stick looking bug
Location:  south jersey
October 9, 2010 12:23 am
hi! i took this picture tonight around 10:30pm. fall just started, it was probably around 65 degrees outside and i live in south jersey. we have an outdoor light by my front door and lots of bugs come to sit or flutter. this one was sitting on the paneling of my front door, about 2” long/wide. this picture was taken with my cell phone.
Signature:  thanks so much! :]

Plume Moth

Many of the numerous identification requests we receive for Plume Moths like the individual in your photo are described as T Bugs.  Plume Moths are in the family Pterophoridae.

Letter 34 – Plume Moth

 

White insect
Location: NW Pennsylvania
June 2, 2011 7:10 am
I was just wondering what kind of bug this is? I looked all over for info on it but couldn’t find any sort of insect that looks like this. At first thought it might have been a dragonfly, but it doesn’t have 4 wings, or maybe just a mosquito? I have no clue but this bug is buggin me! I think it’s really neat and would love to know what it is!
Signature: Kaitie

Plume Moth

Hi Kaitie,
People often call the Plume Moth a T Bug because of the unique shape of its wings.  Your letter will post live to our site next week during our absence.

THANK YOU FOR RESPONDING!!!
I would have never guessed it was a type of moth!!!

Letter 35 – Plume Moth

 

Mr. T
Location: Black Hawk, CO
July 28, 2011 9:22 pm
Hi!
I discovered this guy on my wall this evening. I’m thinking something in the Diptera order, but am curious as to what it might be! FYI, we live in the mountains of Colorado, at about 9000ft.
Signature: Jackie

Plume Moth

Hi Jackie,
You were probably confused by what appears to be only two wings.  This is actually Lepidoptera, and it is commonly called a Plume Moth, though our readers frequently submit queries that refer to it as a T-Bug.

Letter 36 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: Ivan
Location: El paso tx
July 11, 2013 10:50 pm
I saw this bug outside my house can some body help me
Signature: Iván

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Hi Iván,
Because of its unusual shape, many people write to us requesting the identity of the T-Bug.  This is a Plume Moth.

Letter 37 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: determination
Location: Chomutov, Czech republic
July 27, 2013 3:30 pm
Hello dear Bugman,
Any idea what kind of animal this is?
Thanks, greetings,
Signature: Marije

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Hi Marije,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae, and many members of the family have this distinctive “T” shape.

Letter 38 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: odd looking insect
Location: macomb, michigan
November 17, 2013 4:14 pm
I noticed this flying around where I was working so I took a picture to see it in more detail. What is it?
Signature: thank you.

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae, which according to BugGuide, is:  “A distinctive family of moths, but difficult to identify to genus or species.”  Your individual looks very similar to this member of the genus Geina that is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 39 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: Culver City, California, USA
November 17, 2013 3:08 pm
I took this photo a couple of years ago, and I still don’t know what it is. The bug is on my kitchen wind (you can see the blinds in the background, which indicate the bug was about 4 inches long.
Signature: Terry

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Hi Terry,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae, which according to BugGuide, is:  “A distinctive family of moths, but difficult to identify to genus or species.”  Many people write to us referring to Plume Moths at T-Bugs.  In our opinion, your estimation of the size of this Plume Moth being four inches is quite an exaggeration as they rarely exceed two inches in wingspan.

Letter 40 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: This looks like a mosquito
Location: Enterprise, AL
December 3, 2013 2:00 pm
This looks like a mosquito with horns. Found in my kitchen in Enterprise Alabama. Just curious of what it is.
Signature: Timothy Murray

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Hi Timothy,
The best we can do is to provide a family identification.  This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae, and it is often very difficult to identify individuals to the genus or species level.  See BugGuide for additional information on the Plume Moths.

Letter 41 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: Strange/awesome stick bug
Location: Oakland, Ca
April 24, 2014 9:40 am
Bay area, California, April 24th, 2014
Found on car door in garage. What kind of bug is it? Can’t find anything that looks similar to it. Sent the little guy on its way after snapping the pic.
Signature: Thank you!

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

We believe this is one of the Plume Moths in the family Pterophoridae, though the wings appear to be at a 90 degree angle to one another and we are used to seeing them at a straight 180 degree angle, which when combined with the body gives the resemblance to the letter T, causing people to call them T-Bugs.

Letter 42 – Plume Moth

 

Subject: I think some kinda dragon bug
Location: Cambrigde Ontario
June 25, 2014 9:16 am
I was walking in my house and found this bug on my siding on my house and I was wording if you could tell what kinda bug it is and the name of it
Signature: Anthony L Johnson

Plume Moth
Plume Moth

Hi Anthony,
This is a Plume Moth in the family Pterophoridae and it looks similar to this individual from BugGuide.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

24 thoughts on “Do Plume Moths Bite? Unraveling the Mystery”

  1. Saw one on a door in Salmon Arm BC. the building was the Prestige Inn on the waterfront.Not able to capture an image.

    Reply
  2. LOL! For a few seconds, when I first looked at the picture, I thought that the door lock was a beer or soda can seen from above, than I thought it was a giant plume moth.

    Reply
  3. A question rather than a comment guys. Do you know how many plume moths are coloured rather than just white or grey as most seem to be?

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  4. 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!

    Reply
  5. 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.

    Reply
  6. I live in Saudi Arabia I think I have a plum moth in my apartment it fly’s and only come out at night I have seen also on the wall it looks to be green and brown please replay
    Thank you Steve Urick

    Reply
  7. I live in Saudi Arabia I think I have a plum moth in my apartment it fly’s and only come out at night I have seen also on the wall it looks to be green and brown please replay
    Thank you Steve Urick

    Reply
  8. Was surprised to find this on my cabin siding this morning. In all my 79 years, I’ve never seen it before. I live in north central Ohio.

    Reply
  9. Hi Dana,
    They are quite wonderful Plume Moths- the first one I ever saw one was in Montana 🙂 where we lived in a forest area…
    Nice to hear they are also in Ohio!
    JCW

    Reply
  10. I saw one for the first time today in Northwest Florida. T has special meaning because my son who passed away, name began with T. ????❤️

    Reply

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