Haliophyle flavistigma (Warren)

Haliophyle flavistigma

This species appears to be restricted to the island of Maui, at least one other, closely related, but not yet described species occurs on the nearby island of Moloka’i. [2]

There is obviously still not much known about the biology of this species, a situation that is shared with so many other Polynesian insect species …. [1]


[1] E. C. Zimmerman: Insects of Hawaii 7, Macrolepidoptera. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1958
[2] F. G. Howarth; W. P. Mull: Hawaiian Insects and Their Kin. University of Hawaii Press 1992


Photo: Hank L. Oppenheimer

(under creative commons licence (3.0))


Anthophila chelaspis (Meyrick)

Marquesan Metalmark Moth (Anthophila chelaspis)

The Marquesan Metalmark Moth was described in the year 1929.

This species is endemic to the Marquesas, where it occurs with at least two subspecies (a third one seems to exist but hasn’t been described yet), of which the nominate race lives on Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa, while the other two are found on Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou respectively.

The moth reaches a wingspan of about 1,4 cm.

The biology is not known, however, the caterpillars probably feed on the only native fig species, the aoa (Ficus prolixa G. Forst.). [1]



[1] J. F. Gates Clarke: Pyralidae and Microlepidoptera of the Marquesas Archipelago. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 416. 1986


ssp. chelaspis (Meyrick) from Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa

ssp. euthenia (Clarke) from Nuku Hiva

Photo: Peter T. Oboyski; by courtesy of Peter T. Oboyski

Moths of French Polynesia


edited: 23.08.2017

Thyrocopa geminipuncta Walsingham

Twinspotted Thyrocopa Moth (Thyrocopa geminipuncta)

The Twinspotted Thyrocopa Moth obviously occurs on the islands of Maui and Moloka’i.

The species reaches a wingspan of about 2 to 2,2 cm.



[1] Elwood C. Zimmerman: Insects of Hawaii 9; Microlepidoptera Part 2; Gelechioidea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1978
[2] Matthew J. Medeiros: A revision of the endemic Hawaiian genus Thyrocopa (Lepidoptera: Xyloryctidae: Xyloryctinae). Zootaxa 2202: 1-47. 2009

Hypolimnas bolina (L.)

Blue Moon Butterfly (Hypolimnas bolina)

The Blue Moon Butterfly, also known under the markedly ugly name Great Eggfly, was described in 1764.

The species has an exceptional wide area of distribution, which stretches from Madagascar over Asia and Australia into eastern Polynesia.

Three of the several subspecies occur within the Polynesian region, these are: Hypolimnas bolina ssp. otaheitae (Felder), which occurs on the Austral- and the Cook Islands, the Marquesas, the Society Islands, the Pitcairn Islands, and on Rapa Nui; Hypolimnas bolina ssp. pallescens (Butler), which is found in Fiji, in Tokelau, in Tonga, and in Samoa; Hypolimnas bolina ssp. rarik (Eschscholtz), which occurs in some parts of Kiribati as well as in Tuvalu. Another subspecies, Hypolimnas bolina ssp. nerina (Fabricius) is native to Australia and regularely visits New Zealand, but has not yet established a breeding population there, but probably will do so in time, and thus should be mentioned here too.

Males and females show a striking sexual dimorphism, males are always black with some white spots on the wings, which again are surrounded by a glossy dark blue ring. The females are much more variable in coloration, they furthermore produce several morphotypes, which, in appearance, often resemble other butterfly species, a phenomenon called mimicry.

The males are very territorial, while the females are wandering over wide ranges.

The larvae feed on plant species from the Acanthaceae, Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae, Malvaceae and the Urticaceae family.


In Niue this butterfly is called pepe mahina lanu.



[1] R. H. Van Zwaluwenburg: The Insects of Canton Island. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 11(3): 300-312. 1943
[2] Alden D. Hinckley: Ecology of Terrestrial Arthropods on the Tokelau Atolls. Atoll Research Bulletin 124: 1-18. 1969
[3] Jaqueline Y. Miller; Lee D. Miller: The Butterflies of the Tonga Islands and Niue, Cook Islands, with the Descriptions of two new subspecies. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 34: 1-24. 1993
[4] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of Fiji. The Weta 24(1): 5-12. 2002
[5] Neal L. Evenhuis: Checklist of Fijian Lepidoptera. Bishop Museum Technical Report 38(13): 1-53. 2007
[6] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of the South Pacific. Otago University Press 2012


Photo: Antonio Machado; by courtesy of Antonio Machado


edited: 18.08.2017

Sphenarches bilineatus Yano

Two-lined Feather Moth (Sphenarches bilineatus)

The Two-lined Feather Moth, which is closely related to the Indopacific Feather Moth (Sphenarches anisodactylus (Walker)), was described in the year 1963.

The species, which reaches a wingspan of about 1,5 cm, is occurs obviously exclusively in Samoa.

The biology of this species is hitherto completely unknown.



[1] Koji Yano: Notes on South Pacific Pterophoridae (Lepidoptera). Pacific Insects 5(4): 849-871. 1963
[2] Karin S. Kami; Scott E. Miller: Samoan Insects and related Arthropods: Checklist and Bibliography. Bishop Museum Technical Report 13. 1998

Hyposmocoma eliai Schmitz & Rubinoff

Elia’s Cosmet Moth (Hyposmocoma eliai)

This species was described in the year 2011, it is so far known only from the type locality near the Nawiliwili bay in the southeast of the island of Kaua’i.

It is one of the smallest species of its genus, males have a wingspan of only about 0,45 to 0,5 cm. The color of the forewings is blackish, except for three disconnected white stripes on each of the wings, and some dark grey scales, the hindwings are completely grey in color.

The larvae live on large barren volcanic rocks along the shoreline, which regularly getting sprayed with salty sea water. They build a bag-shaped, about 0,4 cm long larval case, made of fine sand interwoven with silk.

They obviously feed on algae. [1]



[1] Patrick Schmitz; Daniel Rubinoff: Ecologically and Morphologically Remarkable New Cosmet Moth Species of the Genus Hyposmocoma (Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae) Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, with Reference to the Spectacular Diversity of Larval Cases. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 104(1): 1-15. 2011


edited: 01.03.2016

Hyposmocoma moopalikea Schmitz & Rubinoff

Palikea Water Cosmet Moth (Hyposmocoma moopalikea)

The Palikea Water Cosmet Moth was described in the year 2011.

The species is endemic to the island of Maui, it is so far known only from the vicinity of the Palikea stream in the Kipahulu valley.

The case-bearing caterpillars are aquatic, the larval cases are burrito-shaped and 0,5 to 0,7 cm in length.

The male moth reaches a wingspan of about 1 cm, the female is slightly larger. The forewings are mostly dark brown with some scattered off-white scales. [1]


The Palikea Water Cosmet Moth appears to be very rare. [1]



[1] Patrick Schmitz; Daniel Rubinoff: The Hawaiian amphibious caterpillar guild: new species of Hyposmocoma (Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae) confirm distinct aquatic invasions and complex speciation patterns. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 162(1): 15–42. 2011

Thyrocopa apatela (Walsingham)

Flightless Haleakala Moth (Thyrocopa apatela)

The Haleakala Flightless Moth, also named as Grasshopper Moth, lives in the alpine zones of the Haleakala volcano.

Both sexes of this unconspicuous, about 1,5 cm long moth species have short wings and are flighless. They flutter in the wind, resembling dried leaves and are blown to appropriate deposits of organic debris, that have accumulated in rock crevices, where they mate and lay eggs.

The larvae can be found under large rocks, where the build web nests and where they feed on dried leaves and other organic debris.


Photo: Kim Starr & Forest Starr; by courtesy of Kim Starr & Forest Starr


Comodica coarctata (Clarke)

Rapa Comodica Moth (Comodica coarctata)

This species was described in the year 1971, it is so far known only from the island of Rapa.

The moth reaches a wingspan of 0,8 to 1 cm.

The caterpillars feed on dead, dry fruits or dry leaves of the Screw Pine (Pandanus tectorius Parkinson ex Du Roi), they hide themselves in a cocoon, constructed of tightly cemented silk, plant fibers and frass.



[1] J. F. G. Clarke: The Lepidoptera of Rapa Island. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 56. 1971


Photo: Peter T. Oboyski; by courtesy of Peter T. Oboyski



edited: 15.08.2017

Fautaua diagonalis Collenette

Diagonal-lined Owlet Moth (Fautaua diagonalis)

The Diagonal-lined Owlet Moth was described in the year 1928, it is the type species of the genus, that is restricted exclusively to the Society Islands archipelago.

This species occurs on the islands of Mo’orea and Tahiti, its biology, however, seems to be unknown so far.


Photo: Peter T. Oboyski; by courtesy of Peter T. Oboyski