Kwik-Key to Common Families of Lepidoptera

Answer for your specimen:

If you have reached this part of the key, your specimen’s front wings should have quadrifid venation (cubital vein appears to be four-branched).   A frenulum should be present and the hind wings should have no more than two anal veins.

The three likely families are:


Tiger moths and others

The Erebidae is a large and diverse family that includes underwings, tiger moths, wasp moths, tussock moths, and others.   All of these groups have quadrifid venation in both the front and hind wings.   Some species are quite colorful and distinctive, but others are drab brown or gray in color.


Owlet moths

Noctuids are medium-size moths with filiform (thread-like) antennae.   Front wings have quadrifid venation and a complex pattern of lines and spots whereas hind wings have trifid venation with a very simple color pattern.   Most species are nocturnal.


Tent caterpillars and Lappet moths

Adults of the Lasiocampidae have bipectinate antennae in both sexes.   Their bodies and legs are quite hairy.   Most species are brown or grayish in color and rest with their wings held tent-like over the body.   Hind wings have an enlarged humeral area and lack a frenulum.