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Small Phigalia Moth (Phigalia strigataria)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Small Phigalia Moth

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The Small Phigalia is a silvery moth with an uncommon characteristic in the female that often helps her escape notice.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The female Small Phigalia Moth is unable to fly. Her wings are near her head and they are so incredibly small, at first glance, it looks as if she has none. Her segmented abdomen is gray with black markings on it, and she looks more like True Bug than a moth. Males have a classic moth appearance and can fly to the female for reproduction. The male is also gray with black markings. Fragmented black lines cross his wings. Deep scallops in the line resemble a row of teeth, but the Small Phigalia has a gap near its wings' outer edges. Just before the line ends, some 'teeth' are either missing, or are barely visible.

Look for females walking on elm, oak, willow, sweet gum, and other deciduous trees. Caterpillars are small. They change color as they mature: gray head and bodies with mottled coloring, orange heads with dark brown mottled bodies, or orange heads with black and orange bodies. It moves like an inchworm, raising its mid-section as it propels its head forward. Look for the adult male, the easiest of the species to spot, in woodlands and parks where host trees grow.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmless insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Geometridae
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          Genus: Phigalia
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            Species: strigataria
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Phigalia strigataria
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 38mm (1.18" to 1.49")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: gray; black; silver; white
Descriptors: scallop; silver; fringe; flying; harmless

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 30mm (1.2in) and 38mm (1.5in)
Lo: 30mm
Md: 34mm
Hi: 38mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Small Phigalia Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Small Phigalia Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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