Grapevine Epimenis: Quick Guide for Curious Gardeners

folder_openInsecta, Lepidoptera
commentNo Comments

Grapevine Epimenis is a fascinating and unique creature that many people may not know about. This velvety-black moth exhibits vibrant colors and patterns, making it stand out from other noctuid family members, which are typically drab and grayish in color. Some common relatives include dagger, owlet, armyworm, cutworm, and earworm moths.

While many moths are known to be nocturnal, the Grapevine Epimenis is a daytime flyer. Its distinctive appearance features a large white patch on each forewing, usually with a notch on the inner margin, and a bold red to orange hind wing coloration.

Caterpillars of this species, known as Epimenis caterpillars, are found primarily on grapevines. With this brief introduction, further exploration of the Grapevine Epimenis will provide more insight into its life cycle, habits, and impact on vineyards.

Grapevine Epimenis Overview


The Grapevine Epimenis (Psychomorpha epimenis) is an owlet moth known for its unique appearance. Key features include:

  • Velvety-black body and wings
  • Large, irregularly shaped white patch on each front wing
  • Orange-red or brownish-red patch on hind wings
  • Bluish-white larva with black stripes and red bands

Range and Distribution

The Grapevine Epimenis can be found in woodlands, woodland edges, and hedgerows across various regions.


Grapevine Epimenis moths typically prefer habitats with access to grapevines, as their larvae feed on the leaves of grape plants. They are also found in areas abundant with other host plants like the Virginia creeper and the Boston ivy.

Life Cycle and Appearance

Eggs and Larvae

The life cycle of the Grapevine Epimenis starts with eggs laid by the adult moths on grapevine leaves. After hatching, the tiny larvae begin feeding on the leaves and gradually grow in size.


As the Grapevine Epimenis progresses through its life cycle, the larva develops into a caterpillar. These caterpillars have a unique appearance, which includes:

  • Black body
  • Black stripes and spots
  • Orange coloration on some segments

Caterpillars then spin silk cocoons in which they will pupate.

Adult Moths

The final stage of the Grapevine Epimenis life cycle is the adult moth stage. Some key features of adult moths include:

  • Velvety black body and wings
  • Forewing with a large, notched white patch
  • Hind wing with a large red to orange patch

Adult moths are members of the owlet moth family and, unlike most moths in this family, are active during daylight hours. Once they reach adulthood, the moths will reproduce and start the life cycle over again.

Stage Appearance Features
Eggs and Larvae Small, inconspicuous eggs on grape leaves Hatching, initial feeding
Caterpillars Black body with stripes, spots, and orange Growing, eating, spinning silk
Adult Moths Black body, white patch, red/orange on hind wing Reproduction, daylight flying

Grapevine Epimenis are unique and intriguing examples of arthropoda within the insecta class. Understanding their life cycles and appearances can help growers monitor and respond to potential grapevine damage.

Feeding and Diet

Host Plants

The Grapevine Epimenis (Psychomorpha epimenis) is a butterfly species found in woodlands and woodland edges. This Lepidoptera species from the Noctuidae family is known for using plants from the grape family for its larvae development. Some of the common host plants include:

  • Grapevines (Vitis spp.)
  • Plums (Prunus spp.)
  • Cherries (Prunus spp.)
  • Redbud (Cercis spp.)

Larvae feed on new foliage from these plants, which can cause damage and impact the health of the host plants.

Adult Nectar Sources

Adult Grapevine Epimenis butterflies require nectar sources for sustenance and reproduction. They are known to feed on nectar from flowers in the same habitat where they lay their eggs. Some typical adult nectar sources are:

  • Grape plant flowers
  • Trees commonly found in woodland areas

Contrasting host plants and nectar sources for Grapevine Epimenis:

Host Plants Adult Nectar Sources
Grapevines (Vitis spp.) Grape plant flowers
Plums (Prunus spp.) Trees in woodland areas
Cherries (Prunus spp.)
Redbud (Cercis spp.)

As grapevine pests, Grapevine Epimenis caterpillars can contribute to the spread of diseases among host plants. To minimize damage, it is essential to monitor and manage grapevine pests effectively. Monitoring can include visually inspecting plants for patches of eggs or larvae, and employing pest management practices to limit their impact. This information can help mitigate damages caused by these nocturnal butterflies and protect the health of host plants.

Importance and Impact

Role in the Ecosystem

The Grapevine Epimenis is a colorful moth with a wingspan of about an inch. It can be found in various parts of North America, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Primarily, these moths are seen in the spring season.

Being a pollinator, the Grapevine Epimenis plays a vital role in the ecosystem. They help in the pollination of various plants, including grapevines. Their activity ensures better crop production and supports biodiversity.

Grapevine Epimenis as Pest

Despite their positive role in pollination, the caterpillars of Grapevine Epimenis can also be considered as pests. They can be particularly problematic in grapevine-growing regions, such as Virginia and Missouri. Their feeding on grapevines can lead to negative effects on the plant’s growth and development.

  • Pros:

    • Pollination of grapevines and other plants
    • Support biodiversity within the ecosystem
  • Cons:

    • Caterpillars can cause damage to grapevines
    • May impact grapevine yield and quality
Feature Grapevine Epimenis
Classification Animalia (Moth)
Distribution United States, Canada, Mexico
Wingspan Approximately 1 inch
Flight Season Spring
Role in Ecosystem Pollinator, pest (caterpillar)
Common Regions with Grapevines Virginia, Missouri

In conclusion, the Grapevine Epimenis serves an essential role as a pollinator while also being a potential pest during its caterpillar stage. It’s necessary to balance the moth’s positive contributions with the possible negative impacts in grapevine-growing regions.

Identification Resources and Additional Information

Clickable Guide and Photos

Grapevine Epimenis is a velvety-black moth, with an irregularly shaped white patch on each front wing and a large, orange-red or brownish-red patch on each hind wing source. To help with identification, you can consult resources such as:

Both resources provide photos of various life stages and a community-driven identification platform.

Expert Advice and Local Extension Offices

For accurate information on Grapevine Epimenis and other fauna, it’s recommended to seek expert professional advice. Local extension offices can provide guidance and resources on identification and management. Find your local extension office here.

Community Contributions

Engaging with online communities of amateur and professional naturalists can be helpful for identifying Grapevine Epimenis:

These platforms allow users to contribute photos, observations, and knowledge. Keep in mind that user-generated content may not always be accurate, so verify information with credible sources.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, 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 – Grapevine Epimenis


Please identify, if possible
I’ve spent the last 2 hours trying to find this butterfly (or moth) at several different sites online…. including “What’s That Bug?” So far, I’ve not found it. Can you please identify it for me? As you can see, it is not very big. Thanks,
Donna Bryant,
East Texas

Hi Donna,
We did not recognize your moth, and we needed to do some research as well. We thought your specimen resembled an Eight Spotted Forrester, and we searched BugGuide for moths in that subfamily, Agaristinae. We quickly found your moth, Psychomorpha epimenis, Grapevine Epimenis, on BugGuide, which indicates: “larvae feed on the leaves of grape, family Vitaceae. Adults nectar on early spring blooming plums, cherries, and redbuds. ” We suspect the pollination to the fruit trees offsets any leaf damage caused by the caterpillars.

Letter 2 – Grapevine Epimenis


Subject: Moth
Location: Minneapolis, MN
May 24, 2013 2:33 pm
I found this rather attractive black & white moth hanging out on a footpath on my way to work.
This is near the University of MN in Minneapolis. We’re having a cool/cold/late spring this year and this particular day was cold and overcast.
My limited-skill attempts to identify it have led me nowhere.
Signature: Darren Abbey

Grapevine Epimenis
Grapevine Epimenis

Hi Darren,
This is an exciting submission for us as it is an underrepresented species for our site.  We quickly identified this distinctive Owlet Moth as a Grapevine Epimenis,
Psychomorpha epimenis, thanks to BugGuide where we learned:  “The common name is unusual in that it contains the species epithet; the normal practice is to use the genus name, as in ‘Grapevine Psychomorpha.'”  There is only a hint of red showing on the underwings, but some of the photos on BugGuide show a striking large red patch that is hidden in your image.

In retrospect, there were grape vines growing adjacent to the trail where this was found.

Providing the larval food plants is one of the surest ways to attract specific butterflies and moths.

Letter 3 – Grapevine Epimenis


Subject: black moth with orange and white markings
Location: Missouri, United States
April 4, 2015 3:59 pm
while moving tent caterpillars off of our plum tree, this little pollinator stopped by! I’m glad I got some good pictures. I’m about 85% sure this is a moth but I’d just like to hear your opinion as well and if you can give me the species that’d be much appreciated!
it had fuzzy legs and body, like a moth. with a proboscis like abutterfly.
Signature: Stolz

Grapevine Epimenis
Grapevine Epimenis

Dear Stolz,
We quickly identified your moth on BugGuide as a Grapevine Epimenis,
Psychomorpha epimenis, and according to BugGuide:  “Adult records are mostly from February to July.  Food Larvae feed on the leaves of grape, Vitis (Vitaceae) Common nectar genera: Forestiera, Prunus, Crataegus, Cercis spp.”  Since Plum is in the genus Prunus and it is April, this sighting is very typical.

Grapevine Epimenis
Grapevine Epimenis

Letter 4 – Grapevine Epimenis


Subject: ID of Butterfly
Location: Southwest Virginia near New River
April 11, 2015 8:21 pm
This little butterfly landed near me on the trail along New River in Southwest Virginia. I haven’t been able to ID it, though I have searched online. Please help!
Signature: Carolyn

Grapevine Epimenis
Grapevine Epimenis

Dear Carolyn,
The reason you are having a difficult time with this identification is that this is a diurnal Owlet Moth, the Grapevine Epimenis,
Psychomorpha epimenis.

No wonder!  Thank you so much!  It’s such a pretty little moth–new to me!  You guys are great!!!


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts
Tags: Grapevine Epimenis

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed