Hypenodes sombrus (Smith, 1908)




Hypenodes sombrus is one of the smallest moths covered by the PNW Moths website, although it overlaps with myriad other small moths in the catchall category "microlepidoptera" (basically all moths preceding the superfamily Pyraloidea in recent check lists (e. g., Pohl, Patterson, and Pelham (2016) on ResearchGate.net)). It is a very small (FW length of 5–6 mm) dull dark gray moth with indistinct transverse lines that flies in boreal forests during summer. The male antenna is filiform. The palps curve dorsad in front of the head. The forewing is fairly long, roughly triangular and weakly pointed. It is dark gray, slightly darker basal to the medial line and distally, including the fringe. There are four pale luteous spots on the distal third of the anterior margin, best seen under magnification. Multiple scattered pale gray and gray scales form the indistinct transverse lines. The hindwing is gray, slightly lighter than the forewing, with a faint discal spot. The head and thorax are similar gray to the forewing.

Hypenodes species are very small and therefore typically only noticed by those interested in microlepidoptera, most of which are not covered by the PNW Moths site. Of the moths that are included on this site H. sombrus it is only likely to be confused with H. fractilinea in our region. They are best distinguished by color, gray in H. sombrus and tan in H. fractilinea. They can potentially be identified by locality as it appears that their ranges might not overlap in our region—H. fractilinea is only known currently from southern British Columbia and western Washington—but there are very few PNW records of either species in the region. 


The early stages are unknown.


Hypenodes sombrus occurs in boreal forest.


Pacific Northwest

This moth has only been found in the central part of British Columbia in the Pacific Northwest. It should be sought elsewhere, especially in the northern Rocky Mountains.


Hypenodes sombrus is fairly widespread in the boreal forest of eastern Canada and adjacent United States, from Labrador and Massachusetts to northern Minnesota.

Life History


The early stages are unknown. It might feed on detritus or fungi like some other erebid moths.


Adults fly during summer, usually during July and August. They are nocturnal and come to lights.

Economic Importance




Ferguson (1954)

Moth Photographers Group