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Family Hepialidae - Ghost Moths

Moth- what kind? - Sthenopis auratus Four-spotted Ghost Moth - Sthenopis purpurascens Moth- what kind? - Sthenopis auratus 1266a Gazoryctra mathewi 0028 - Gazoryctra mathewi Moth  - Sthenopis purpurascens Gazoryctra novigannus No clear shots - Korscheltellus gracilis Silver-spotted Ghost Moth - Hodges#0018 (Sthenopis argenteomaculatus) - Sthenopis argenteomaculatus
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
No Taxon (Moths)
Superfamily Hepialoidea
Family Hepialidae (Ghost Moths)
Other Common Names
Swift Moths
Explanation of Names
Ghost Moth - to attract females, the male hovers over open ground, sometimes slowly rising and falling [like a ghost] (wikipedia.org)
Swift Moth - adults are rapid fliers
Hepialidae - from the type genus Hepialus, which is Greek meaning "fever", describing their fitful, alternating flight. (1)
Numbers
20 North American species in 4 genera listed at nearctica.com, plus another species (Korscheltellus lupulina) currently restricted to southern Ontario
about 500 species in 80 genera worldwide (Hepialidae of Australia)
Size
Wingspan varies greatly among species, from 20 mm to 200 mm (in Australian species)
Identification
Wings long and narrow
Body long
Antennae short

Other characteristics visible with close inspection:
Rudimentary wing coupling mechanism (jugum)
Adults with reduced, vestigial or absent mouthparts
Range
Most of North America;
also represented throughout most of the world except Madagascar and central-west Africa
Habitat
Most larvae live in the soil
Adults may be attracted to artificial light
Food
Early instar larvae feed on plant detritus, decaying wood, or fungi; later instars bore into roots or stems of woody plants, or feed on moss, and the leaves of grasses and other herbaceous plants.
Some adults cannot feed because they lack mouthparts.
Remarks
Considered a "primitive" moth because of a combination of adult and larval characters. Adult moths lack a strong wing coupling mechanism and instead use a "jugum", which is a thumb like projection between fore- and hindwings. Wings do not remain coupled while in flight. While present in other primitive lepidoptera, the exact function remains speculative. This feature is often strongly, and best, developed in the Hepialidae. Adults also have reduced or sometimes absent mouthparts.

For more information, see discussion here.
Internet References
pinned adult images of 4 North American species in 2 genera (Canadian Forest Service)
Systematica and Evolution (John Grehan, Buffalo Museum of Science)
Works Cited
1.An accentuated list of the British Lepidoptera, with hints on the derivation of the names.
Anonymous. 1858. The Entomological Societies of Oxford and Cambridge.