How can plume moths fly on such narrow wings?


Plume moths are named for their slim, feathery wings, which they hold out almost at right angles to the body when at rest. This makes them twiggy and un-moth-like; it also makes them rather feeble fliers.


They can fly, nevertheless, and the aerofoils of the wings are wider than they first appear because they are furled closed at rest.

Insect flight is not just a matter of flapping broad wings to get airborne. Many moths are broad-winged, but hawkmoths, which are incredibly agile fliers, have narrow, slim wings. Some of these are long-distance migrants, able to negotiate mountain ranges and the open sea, and their wing shapes mirror those of bird aeronauts such as swallows and swifts.


Plume moths might be less fast and furious, but their wing shapes are perfectly adequate for a life of fluttering in the herbage, woodland edge or meadowland hedge.