Moths in the Drepanidae family

Drepanidae family overview

Moths in the Drepanidae are commonly known as the Hook tips. There are more than 650 species worldwide, eight in Europe, and six in Britain, with one extra an occasional immigrant. The adults have broad wings, the fore wings usually having a hook at the tip, and thin bodies, and are similar to the Geometridae, to which they are closely related. Some species are pests of the coffee crop. The caterpillars of the U. K. species feed on trees and shrubs. The caterpillars lack the final pair of prolegs, and rest in a characteristic shape with the end of the body raised up.

Cilix glaucata, the Chinese character moth

Cilix glaucata, the Chinese character moth adult

Above is the Chinese character moth, Cilix glaucata. It is widespread in central and southern Europe, found in the British Isles, but less common in the north and absent from most of Scotland.

The caterpillar grows up to 12 mm long, and is found in hedgerows and woodland margins. Its foodplants include hawthorn, blackthorn, plum, apple, pear, rowan and bramble. There are two generations per year. Eggs are laid in May and again in August. The caterpillars feed in June and July, and September and October. When the caterpillars are small they eat the upper surface of the leaf only, leaving characteristic blotches telling of their presence. Only when they are larger do they eat in the normal way. Pupation takes place in August and October in a strong, brown cocoon among leaves or under loose bark. They overwinter as a pupa.

Adults emerge in May and August. The adult Chinese character does not have the hooked tip to the forewing that is characteristic of this family. Forewing length is 10 - 13 mm. When at rest the adult resembles a bird dropping. Adults are nocturnal.