Hepialus lupulinus L Garden swift moth

This pest is widespread and common on a wide range of crops, particularly those grown in recently ploughed grassland and those in weedy sites. The larvae attack the roots and also bore into bulbs, corms and tubers. Infestations are often noted on carrot, hop, lettuce, potato and strawberry, and on many ornamental plants; bean, beet, cereals, parsnip and various other crops are also attacked. Damage occurs mainly from autumn to early spring.


Adults occur mainly in May and June. They are active at dusk and may then be seen flying low over fields and gardens. Eggs are broadcast randomly by the females whilst in flight, each depositing about 300. The eggs hatch approximately 2-3 weeks later. Larvae feed indiscriminately on the subterranean parts of plants. Each larva forms a silk-lined burrow in the soil, down which it retreats when disturbed. Larvae develop relatively slowly and usually do not become fully grown until the following spring. Pupation occurs in a flimsy cocoon several centimetres below the surface. The adult usually emerges about 6 weeks later, after the pupa has wriggled out of its cocoon and made its way to the surface of the ground.


Adult 25-40 mm wingspan, female usually larger and stouter-bodied than male; thorax with a finlike tuft of hairs; forewings yellowish-brown, more or less marked with white; hindwings yellowish-grey. Egg 0.5-0.6 mm across, white when laid but soon turning black and shiny. Larva up to 35 mm long; body white and translucent, with the gut contents often clearly visible; pinacula pale brown and inconspicuous (cf. Hepialus hamuli, above); head and prothoracicplate light brown (Plate lOe). Pupa 20 mm long, reddish-brown; abdominal segments with projections ventrally and dentate ridges dorsally.

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