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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

990490n – 19490   Lymantria monacha (Linnaeus, 1758)
             Black Arches

Poland - © Marek Bartczak
Distribution: Palaearctic distribution, found throughout all of Eurasia with a “mostly continuous distribution across Asia”; not found in North America north of Mexico.
and Size:
Forewing length ranges 18-20mm in males, and 27-29mm in females.
Larva and
Host Plants:
The Natural History Museum's HOSTS database as well as Pogue and Schaefer (2007) cite L. monacha as having many suitable hosts. Larvae feed on both conifers and hardwoods, representing the Betulaceae, Fagaceae, Oleaceae, Pinaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Combretaceae, Aceraceae, Rosaceae, Ericaceae, and Salicaceae.

Some of the host records include:

Pinaceae: Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine), P. armandii, P. banksiana, P. cembra, P. concorta, P. densiflora, P. sylvestris, P. strobus, P. yunnanensis, Picea abies, P. asperata, P. excels, P. pungens, P. sitchensis, Pseudotsuga menziesii, P. sinensis, Juniperus chinensis, Tsuga chinensis.

Aceraceae: Acer
Betulacea: Betula, Carpinus cordata and Corylus heterophylla
Rosaceae: Crataegus monogyna, C. oxyacantha, Cydonia vulgaris, Malus domestica, M. pumila, M. sylvestris, Prunus padus, P. serotina, P. spinosa, P. armeniaca, Rosa cania, and Sorbus aucuparis, S. alnifolia, S. torminalis
Fagaceae: Quercus aliena, Q. robur, Q. serrata, Q. sessiliflora.
Oleaceae: Fraxinus; Populus davidiana
Salicacea: Salix alba, S. babylonica, S. viminalis
Ericaceae: Vaccinium myrtillus, V. uliginosum First instar larvae can be distinguished from L. d. dispar using the head width at the widest point (0.57-0.60mm in L. monacha 0.53-0.60 in L. dispar dispar)
Similar Species:
  • Males are most similar to L. pulverea, L. minomonis, and L. concolor, with greatest similarity to L. pulverea due to size and forewing pattern. Forewing “irrorated with some gray scales” giving it a lighter appearance than the “more heavily irrorated forewing of L. pulverea”. A melanic form is common in Europe, however absent in Asia; these individuals have dark gray instead of white on the forewing, they also lack the black spots and white marginal borders that are present in the non-melanic form.
  • Genitalic illustrations provided by Mike Pogue, from Pogue and Schaefer (2007)
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select View by Region on the related species page.)
Synonymy: Phalaena (Bombyx) monacha Linnaeus, 1758
Noctua heteroclita Muller, 1764
Bombyx eremita Hubner, [1808]
Bombyx nigra Freyer, 1833
Liparis monacha var oethiops de Selys-Longchamps, 1875
Psilura transiens Thierry-Mieg, 1866
L. monacha nigra Krulikovsky, 1907
L. monacha Krulikovsky, 1908
L. monacha eremita Krulikovsky, 1908
  • (1) Natural History Museum: HOSTS- A Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants website
  • (2) Pogue, M.G., and Schaefer, P.W. (2007). A review of selected species of Lymantria Hubner [1819] including three new species (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Lymantriinae) from subtropical and temperate regions of Asia, some potentially invasive to North America. Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team.
  • (3) Species Page at BOLD Barcoding Project - website.

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