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Manitoba Museum

Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera)

Owlet Moths


Owlet Moths are widespread throughout North America, with several rare species occurring in Canada. Some adults use special ear-like organs to hear and avoid predators such as bats. Most are nocturnal and strongly attracted to light. They are important flower visitors, and adults feed on nectar, sap, and rotting fruit. Larvae can be serious pests on prairie crops and other economically important species.

Representative Genera and Species:

Copablepharon grandis, C. longipenne, Euxoa divergens, Melaporphyria immortua, Schinia avemensis, S. bimatris, S. verna

Pollinator Life Cycle:

Owlet moths have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Their larvae have a wide range of life styles, including feeding on economically valuable crops. Pupation occurs in cells in the soil, in plant cavities, or in silk-covered cocoons. In the Canadian prairies, some larvae over-winter in the ground and grow over the summer months.

Rarity Status:

Pale Yellow Dune Moth, Dusky Dune Moth, Gold-edged Gem, White Flower Moth, and Verna’s Flower Moth are protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act and Manitoba’s Endangered Species Act. Species under provincial protection vary in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario.

Physical Appearance:

These are full-bodied moths with thread-like antennae, and wingspans from 2 to 4.5 cm. Their forewings are usually dull in color (grey, brown, or black), and are often characterized by circular and kidney-shaped markings. Some have colourful hindwings. When resting, many species hold their wings horizontally or around their abdomen like a roof.

Pollinator Habitat:

These moths live in a variety of terrestrial habitats including active sand dunes and prairie grasslands. They are often found resting on or flying among the larval host plants or adult food plants.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland/Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie
Owlet Moths