Hypenodes fractilinea (Smith, 1908)


Broken-line Hypenodes Moth



The two Hypenodes species that occur in the PNW are the smallest moths included on this website, although there are plenty of other similarly small moths in the catchall category "microlepidoptera" (all moths preceding the superfamily Pyraloidea in recent check lists (e. g., Pohl, Patterson, and Pelham (2016) on ResearchGate.net)). Hypenodes fractilinea has a FW length of 6 mm and is tan with darker medial area and lines that are typically dominated by black dots on the antemedial and postmedial lines (the species name means "broken lines," although this feature is not well expressed in the illustrated specimen. The male antenna is filiform. The palps curve dorsad in front of the head. The forewing is triangular in shape with a slightly convex outer margin. The medial area is darkest, appearing as a band across the wing to the naked eye, the the fringe is also darker than the ground color. Most of the lines are pale tan, better defined than in H. sombrus, with the medial and subterminal lines being most the prominent. The terminal line is a series of darker spots. The reniform spot is very faint. The hindwing is dull gray, darkest near the apex. The head and thorax are similar to the distal forewing in color.

This species is so small and nondescript that it is typically only noticed by those who collect or photograph microlepidoptera. Of the moths included on this website it is only likely to be confused with Hypenodes sombrus, a similarly small but dull gray rather than tan moth with less distinct forewing markings. Their ranges might not overlap in our region—records of H. sombrus are from boreal forest as far south as the Cariboo Plateau in southcentral British Columbia—but there are so few records of either species that it is difficult to be certain if this is the case. 


The early stages of H. fractilinea are unknown.


In the Pacific Northwest this species has been found in a suburban residential area and in low elevation forest west of the Cascades.


Pacific Northwest

The western range of this little moth is known poorly due to its small size and nondescript appearance. It has been collected near Vancouver, British Columbia, and photographed near Mt. Rainier in western Washington. It might be restricted to the southern British Columbia and western Washington in our region.


Hypenodes fractilinea is widespread in the eastern part of North America, occurring between the Great Plains, southern Canada, and northern Florida. It also occurs on the prairies of central Canada.

Life History


The early stages of H. fractilinea are unknown. It might feed on detritus or fungi based on the habits of some other erebids such as species of Idia and Hypena.


Adults have been found during July in the Pacific Northwest. This species is nocturnal and is attracted to lights.

Economic Importance




Ferguson (1954)

Moth Photographers Group

Pohl et al. (url)