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
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
Wingspan varies greatly among species, from 20 mm to 200 mm (in Australian species)
Wings long and narrow
Other characteristics visible with close inspection:
Rudimentary wing coupling mechanism (jugum)
Adults with reduced, vestigial or absent mouthparts
Most of North America;
also represented throughout most of the world except Madagascar and central-west Africa
Most larvae live in the soil
Adults may be attracted to artificial light
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.
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
pinned adult images
of 4 North American species in 2 genera (Canadian Forest Service)
Systematica and Evolution
(John Grehan, Buffalo Museum of Science)