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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

The Otter Moth. Hepialus humuli, Stephens

The Otter Moth. Hepialus humuli, Stephens.

(Fig. VI.)

(Fig. VI.)

1 and 2, Eggs, nat. size and magnified; 3, caterpillar; 4, chrysalis; 5, male; 6, female.

This is known as the Otter moth, so called on account of the peculiar shape and size of its larva. It is also called the Ghost page 24 moth, because the wings of the male are white and in its nocturnal flights, according to Westwood, it has a singular "pendulum like" movement which gives it a somewhat ghostly appearance. The body of the male is rather dusky, while the body of the female is lighter, and she has wings of a yellowish colour with orange markings.

It is known in Germany. Taschenberg and Kaltenbach both speak of it as destructive in German hop plantations. Near Aix its attacks were so severe that whole hop plantations were rendered unproductive. Harris describes it as the "hop vine caterpillar living in the roots of the hop," in his report upon American insects. The larvæ or caterpillars of this moth injure the roots of the hop by feeding upon them, biting the outside skins, and piercing through the interior of the roots with their strong jaws, but the extent of their mischief is not realised as they work so low down in the earth, and their action in killing or weakening the plant is frequently attributed to other causes. As it is most abundant in this country planters sustain more loss from this insect than they are aware of.