Pheosidea elegans (Strecker, 1885)


Elegant Prominent Moth



This is a large moth (FW length 22–28 mm, males smaller than females) that flies in forests of the boreal and Rocky Mountain region during the summer. It has dark gray forewings with a yellow and white base and large flange on the mid-trailing margin.  The forewings have a saw-tooth scalloped outer margin.  The posterior flange is located half-way from the base to the anal angle.  Most of the forewing is gray, suffused with warm brown anteriorly.  The patch of yellow-tan at the base of the posterior margin is bordered anteriorly by a white line.  A few black apical dashes are present between veins.  The hindwings are white with dark gray suffusion near the anal angle, dark veins, and a thin terminal line.  Most of the hindwing fringe is white, becoming gray at the anal angle.  The head and thorax are dark gray.  The abdomen is warm brown with a gray tip.  The male antenna is bipectinate and the female antenna is biserrate.

This species can be identified by the shape and color of its forewing.  The combination of the posterior margin flange and gray color with tan and white base are diagnostic.


The larva is smooth gray-brown with thoracic and caudal humps.  It is illustrated by Powell & Opler (2009) and Miller et al. (2018)  


This species is found in boreal and montane forests with quaking aspen.  It is usually uncommon in the Pacific Northwest.


Pacific Northwest

This species has a northern and Cordilleran distribution, occurring north and east of the Columbia Basin and Snake River Plain.  Washington records extend as far west as Mazama, Okanogan County.  It has been recorded as far north as the Peace River region of British Columbia.


This species is found in boreal forests across the Continent.  It occurs from southern Canada to New Jersey on the East Coast where it is describes as rare by Forbes (1948).

Life History


This species is a foodplant specialist on Salicaceae including both willows (Salix spp.) and cottonwoods (Populus spp.).  It particularly seems to prefer quaking aspen (P. tremuloides).


Adults are nocturnal and come to light.  They are found during the summer, with most Pacific Northwest records from June to early August.  They do not feed as adults.

Economic Importance




Forbes (1948)

Moth Photographers Group

Powell & Opler (2009)