Fairy Moth from France

Subject: S of France nectar feeder
Location: Cevennes mountains S of France
May 7, 2013 4:56 am
Have a number of very strange flying insects on our ceanothus in our garden in Robiac, about 1000 ft up in the Cevennes mountains (S of France). It is around 4mm in length with a bronze coloured wing case with a single transverse (white?) line across the wing cases about 2/3 of the way towards the rear. The principal item of note however, is that when in flight it extends its antennae at right angles to its body and these are almost 3 times its body length. Not elegant in flight but sort of judders about.
Any ideas?
Almost impossible to photograph … sorry – only one image 🙁
Signature: Tony Churly

Fairy Moth
Fairy Moth

Dear Tony,
This moth bears a striking resemblance to a North American Fairy Moth,
Adela trigrapha in the family Adelidae, so we tried to search French members of the family.  We quickly found Papillons de Poitou-Charentes and a similar looking species Adela croesella.  There is a note that it flies in May and October, so your sighting is timely.  The species is also found on UK Moths where it states:  “Distributed locally throughout England and Wales, the males of this species have very long antennae, the females shorter with a thickened base.  The moths are on the wing in late May and June, and fly during the day in sunshine, visiting flowers.  The larvae are thought to feed at first on flowers of sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) or privet (Ligustrum vulgare), later building a portable case from leaf fragments and particles of soil and feeding on leaves which have fallen.” According to BugGuide:  “Small moths with very long antennae (3 times as long as forewing in males, and 1 to 2 times as long as forewing in females); basal half of antennae hairy in females.  Holarctic and Neotropical species (Adelinae) are diurnal and often iridescent, with white antennae.”  This is not a well represented family on our website so we are very thrilled to include your photo in our archive.

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