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Genus Adela

Mating large antennea moth relative - Adela caeruleella - male - female Fairy moth - Adela astrella Caddisfly? - Adela septentrionella - male Moth with Very Long Antenna - Adela septentrionella Adela caeruleella - female riding's fairy moth - Adela ridingsella Adela punctiferella - female Adela - Adela caeruleella - male
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Adeloidea (Fairy Moths and kin)
Family Adelidae (Fairy Moths)
Subfamily Adelinae
Genus Adela
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Adela Latreille, 1796
Explanation of Names
Generic epithet Adela is Greek meaning "hidden," because the caterpillars are so well hidden. (1)
Powell(2) listed 12 species, two of which (bella and aeruginella) are now synonymized under a single name he did not recognize (caeruleella), leaving 11 species:
8 western (eldorada, flammeusella, oplerella, punctiferella, septentrionella, singulella, thorpella, & trigrapha);
2 eastern (caeruleella & ridingsella); and
1 far northern coast-to-coast (purpurea).
Arnett(3) stated there are 10 species but did not list's not clear which of the 11 above were included or omitted.
Wingspan 12-16 mm.
Small moths with very long antennae (often 3+ times as long as forewing in males; 1-2 times as long as forewing in females)
Basal half of antennae hairy & thickened in females of A. caeruleella.
A key to nearctic Adela species appears on pg 215 of Powell (1969)(2).
Much of North America. also occurs in Eurasia.
Grassy open areas, chaparral, or forests where larval host plants are present.
Adults typically fly in spring (March to May) when their host plants are in flower.(4)
Larvae reported to feed on rotting leaves on forest floor, and also reported to feed in flowers or seeds of milkweed, other plants at first, and then on foliage. These later larvae live in cases made from oval pieces of leaves.
Adults take nectar, since found at flowers.
Print References
Arnett, p. 659, fig. 27.24 A. purpurea (3)
Brimley, p. 313, lists A. bella = caeruleella for North Carolina in April-May. (5)
Covell, p. 455, plate 62 #8 A. purpurea (6)
Holland, p. 437, plate XLVIII, fig. 45 A. bella = caeruleella; reports adults feeding on Asclepias nectar. (7)
Milne, p. 705, fig. 522, reports larvae feed on Asclepias, make cases. (8)
Powell & Opler, p. 40, Plate 2. (4)
Internet References
Adelidae page from BAMONA (= Butterflies and Moths of North America)
Adela Plates from "Moths of Western North America" by Powell & Opler(4)
Very informative Adela caeruleella and Adela ridingsella web pages from Moths of North Carolina
Insects of Cedar Creek, Minnesota pinned adult image of A. purpurea
Classification of Adela in family Adelidae by Davis in Kristensen, 1999 (Butterflies and Moths of the World)
NABA photo from Mexico
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.
2.A Synopsis of Nearctic Adelid Moths, with Descriptions of New Species (Incurvariidae)
Jerry A. Powell. 1969. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 23(4): 211-240.
3.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
4.Moths of Western North America
Powell and Opler. 2009. UC Press.
5.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
6.Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths
Charles V. Covell. 1984. Houghton Mifflin Company.
7.The Moth Book
W.J. Holland. 1968. Dover.
8.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.