Lead grey lichen bear

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Lead grey lichen bear
Bleigraues Flechtenbärchen (Eilema griseola)

Lead-grey lichen bear(Eilema griseola)

Order: Butterflies (Lepidoptera)
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Owl butterfly (Erebidae)
Subfamily: Bear moth (Arctiinae)
Genre: Eilema
Art: Lead grey lichen bear
Scientific name
Eilema griseola
(Hübner, 1803)

The lead gray lichen bear, lead gray yellow l ichen bear, or alder l ichen bear(Eilema griseola) is a butterfly (moth) in the bear moth subfamily (Arctiinae).


The moths reach a wingspan of 29 to 35 mm (males) and 27 to 32 mm (females). The broad forewings have, in contrast to the other similar lichen bears, a distinctly convex edge. This is yellowish lead-grey in colour and has a dull sulphur to brownish yellow costal stripe, which tapers from the middle of the wing leading edge and extends to about the outer third of the forewings. When at rest, the forewings of this species are laid flat on top of each other (“flat-wing type” as opposed to the “rolled-wing type” of many other Eilema species). The paler hindwings are pale yellow-grey in colour, with a slightly darker colour towards the fringe. The hind wings and abdomen are yellow on the underside. The short, two-lined antennae with cilia are filiform in both sexes. The species can be confused mainly with the females of the coniferous yellow lichen(Eilema deplana), which, however, have dark brown-grey hindwings, as well as forewings. The underside of the forewings, as well as the underside of the thorax, is ash-grey, the former with yellow margins. Head, thorax and abdomen are pale ochre-yellow on the upper side, the end of the abdomen is slightly more intense yellow.

The caterpillars are black and have two orange-reddish interrupted dorsal lines. They each have a somewhat stronger spot on the back behind the head capsule and at the end of the abdomen. The animals have numerous shaggy, dark tufts of hair all over the body.

Similar species

  • Grey-legged lichen bear(Eilema lurideola)
  • Yellow lichen bear(Eilema complana)
  • Coniferous yellow lichen bear(Eilema deplana)

Geographical distribution and habitat

The animals occur throughout Europe and in Asia east to Japan. They are absent from the far north of Europe, parts of Great Britain and the Mediterranean area. They live in damp and wet deciduous forests, preferentially in broken and riparian forests of the plains.


The lead-grey lichen bear forms one generation per year, with moths flying from late June to late August. The caterpillars are found from September and after hibernation until June of the following year.[1] The caterpillars feed on lichens growing on deciduous trees. They are found mainly on alder stems, but also occur on ash, oak, blackthorn, elm and aspen. The caterpillars live at about knee height on the trunks. They overwinter and pupate only the following June in a loose web in bark cracks or between lichens.


Individual references

  1. Manfred Koch: We determine butterflies. Volume 2: Bears, spinners, hawkmoths and borers of Germany. 2., expanded edition. Neumann, Radebeul/Berlin 1964, DNB 452481929, p. 70f.


  • J. J. de Freina: The Bombyces and Sphinges of the Western Palaearctic. Volume 1: Noctuoidea, Sphingoidea, Geometoidea, Bombycoidea. EFW Edition Forschung & Wissenschaft Verlag GmbH, Munich, 1987, ISBN 3-926285-00-1
  • Hans-Josef Weidemann, Jochen Köhler: Nachtfalter. Spinners and hawkmoths. Naturbuch-Verlag, Augsburg 1996, ISBN 3-89440-128-1.

Web links

Commons: Lead-grey lichen bear– Album with pictures, videos and audio files