Seq # 110030010

Phymatopus hecta (Linnaeus, 1758) Species

Last modified: March 31, 2023, 1:45 p.m.

A not so common and local species throughout Belgium.


Family: Hepialidae > Genus: Phymatopus > Species: Phymatopus hecta
Vernacular names
Heidewortelboorder (NL), Gold Swift (EN), Hépathique (FR), Heidekraut-Wurzelbohrer (DE)
First mention in Belgium
De Sélys-Longchamps E. 1837. Catalogue des Lépidoptères ou Papillons de la Belgique, précédé du tableau des Libellulines de ce pays. — — : 1–29. On page 24 (as Hepialus Hectus). view page




This species, having a wingspan of 20–33mm, has the forewings with two more or less parallel pale fasciae that are white in the males and pale golden-fuscous in the the less contrasting coloured females. It has short antennae and no functioning mouthparts and therefore cannot feed.

Museum specimens

Specimens in nature


The caterpillar is whitish grey and the skin is wrinkled. The shiny head is maroon-brown and, both dorsally and laterally, there are small gray-brown plates on the thoracal segments. The small stigmata are blackish.

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Females of this species scatter their eggs over plants as they fly over them in a suitable biotope. The larva feeds on the roots and subterraneous stem-parts of mainly Pteridium aquilinum. In the last instar it feeds on young shoots at surface level. This species, hibernating twice as a larva, pupates in the ground. It is one of the few species were the males lure the females by spreading a pineapple-like odour.
The adults are active from dusk onwards and later come sparingly to light.

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Flight periods

The adults fly from mid May till the end of July but the main flight period is in June.

Observed on

Host plant (species):
Pteridium aquilinum
Herbaceous plants

The larva feeds mainly in the roots of Pteridium aquilinum. Also Vaccinium spp. and sometimes other herbaceous plants or grasses are mentioned in literature.

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This species occurs especially in open forests with an undergrowth of grasses, ferns or dwarf shrubs. It can also be found in thickets, heaths and rugged grasslands.

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