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Dichomeris ligulella.jpg
Dichomeris ligulella
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Gelechioidea
Family: Gelechiidae
Stainton, 1854

See text


Gelechiadae ( lapsus )
(but see text)


Larva of Chrysoesthia sexguttella in a mine in Chenopodium album Chrysoesthia sexguttella
Larva of Chrysoesthia sexguttella in a mine in Chenopodium album
Dichomeris inserrata Indented Dichomeris Moth
Dichomeris inserrata

The Gelechiidae are a family of moths commonly referred to as twirler moths or gelechiid moths. They are the namesake family of the huge and little-studied superfamily Gelechioidea, and the family's taxonomy has been subject to considerable dispute. These are generally very small moths with narrow, fringed wings. The larvae of most species feed internally on various parts of their host plants, sometimes causing galls. Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga) is a host plant common to many species of the family, particularly of the genus Chionodes , which as a result is more diverse in North America than usual for Gelechioidea. [1]

By the late 20th century, over 900 [2] genera with altogether more than 4,500 species were placed here, with about 650 genera known from North America alone. While these figures are certainly outdated, due to the many revisions to superfamily Gelechioidea and new descriptions of twirler moths, they still serve to show the enormous biodiversity contained in this important family.

Being abundant, fecund plant-eaters, many species are agricultural pests, including:

The voracious habits of their larvae make twirler moths suitable for biological control of invasive plants. The spotted knapweed seedhead moth ( Metzneria paucipunctella ), for example, is used to control spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) in North America.

Taxonomy and systematics

Compared to the other massively diverse Gelechioidea families – Coleophoridae (case-bearers) and Oecophoridae (concealer moths) – the systematics of the Gelechiidae are far less contentious. The "Deoclonidae", sometimes treated as a full gelechioid family, seem to be nothing other than a specialized offshoot from within the Gelechiidae, and are here included in the present family; some authors differ, however, and ally at least some of these genera with the Autostichinae and/or Symmocidae. On the other hand, the Schistonoeidae (scavenger moths) are preliminarily considered a distinct family here. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Of the subfamilies traditionally accepted for the Gelechiidae, only three were maintained for some time pending further information; at least one other, the Physoptilinae, were suggested to also be valid. But numerous genera of twirler moths – including most of the former "Deoclonidae" and also the proposed Physoptilinae – were of undetermined affiliation at that moment. [5] [6] Later studies, including a 2013 molecular analysis of the Gelechiidae, list the following subfamilies: [8]

Subfamily Anacampsinae Bruand, 1850
Subfamily Anomologinae Meyrick, 1926
Subfamily Apatetrinae Meyrick, 1947
Subfamily Dichomeridinae Hampson, 1918 (formerly including Chelariinae, which is now placed in Anacampsinae)
Subfamily Gelechiinae Stainton, 1854
Subfamily Physoptilinae Meyrick, 1914
Subfamily Thiotrichinae Karsholt, Mutanen, Lee & Kaila, 2013

Genera incertae sedis

Related Research Articles

Elachistidae family of insects

The Elachistidae are a family of small moths in the superfamily Gelechioidea. Some authors lump about 3,300 species in eight subfamilies here, but this arrangement almost certainly results in a massively paraphyletic and completely unnatural assemblage, united merely by symplesiomorphies retained from the first gelechioid moths.

Gelechioidea Superfamily of moths

Gelechioidea is the superfamily of moths that contains the case-bearers, twirler moths, and relatives, also simply called curved-horn moths or gelechioid moths. It is a large and poorly understood '"micromoth" superfamily, constituting one of the basal lineages of the Ditrysia.

<i>Phthorimaea operculella</i> Species of moth

Phthorimaea operculella, also known as the potato tuber moth or tobacco splitworm, is a moth of the family Gelechiidae. It is an oligophagous insect that feeds on the plant family Solanaceae and is especially known for being a major pest of potato crops. Currently farmers utilize insecticides, parasites, and sprinkler irrigation in order to prevent P. operculella from infesting their croplands.

Batrachedridae family of insects

The Batrachedridae are a small family of tiny moths. These are small, slender moths which rest with their wings wrapped tightly around their bodies.

The Cosmopterigidae are a family of insects in the order Lepidoptera. These are small moths with narrow wings whose tiny larvae feed internally on the leaves, seeds, stems, etc. of their host plants. About 1500 species are described. The taxonomic family is most diverse in the Australian and Pacific region with about 780 species.

<i>Acompsia</i> genus of insects

Acompsia is a genus of the twirler moth family (Gelechiidae). Though it has once been assigned to the proposed subfamily "Anacampsinae", it is generally placed in the Dichomeridinae. Some authors include Telephila here as a subgenus, while others prefer to keep it distinct as its relationships are fairly obscure.

<i>Caryocolum</i> genus of insects

Caryocolum is a genus of moths in the family Gelechiidae.

Monochroa is a genus of moths in the family Gelechiidae.

Phthorimaea is a genus of moths in the family Gelechiidae. Species include the potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella.

<i>Thiotricha</i> genus of insects

Thiotricha is a genus of moths in the family Gelechiidae, subfamily Thiotrichinae.

The Obtectomera is a clade of macro-moths and butterflies, comprising over 100,000 species in at least 12 superfamilies.

<i>Caryocolum fischerella</i> Species of moth

Caryocolum fischerella is a moth of the family Gelechiidae. It is found in central and northern Europe.

Autostichinae subfamily of insects

The Autostichinae are a subfamily of moths in the superfamily Gelechioidea. Like their relatives therein, their exact relationships are not yet very well resolved. The present lineage was often included in the concealer moth family (Oecophoridae), but alternatively it is united with the Symmocidae sensu stricto to form an expanded family Autostichidae.

Dichomeridinae subfamily of moths in the Gelechiidae family

Dichomeridinae is a subfamily of moths in the family Gelechiidae.

Xyloryctidae family of insects

Xyloryctidae is a family of moths contained within the superfamily Gelechioidea described by Edward Meyrick in 1890. Most genera are found in the Indo-Australian region. While many of these moths are tiny, some members of the family grow to a wingspan of up to 66 mm, making them giants among the micromoths.

Gelechiinae subfamily of insects

Gelechiinae is a subfamily of moths in the family Gelechiidae. It was described by Henry Tibbats Stainton in 1854.

Anacampsinae is a subfamily of moths in the family Gelechiidae.

Thiotrichinae is a subfamily of moths in the family Gelechiidae.

Anomologinae is a subfamily of moths in the family Gelechiidae.

Epimarptidae was a former, or is a possible, monotypic family of moths in the moth superfamily Gelechioidea. It can now be seen as either a synonym of family Batrachedridae, or a monotypic subfamily of that family.


  1. Donald J. Borror, Charles A. Triplehorn & Norman F. Johnson (1989). An Introduction to the Study of Insects (6th ed.). Fort Worth, Texas: Saunders College. p. 800. ISBN   0-03-025397-7.
  2. The Natural History Museum of London website offers details on 911 genera belonging to the family Gelechiidae. The list of these is accessible here
  3. R. W. Hodges (1999). "The Gelechioidea". In N. P. Kristensen (ed.). IV – Arthropoda: Insecta. Part 35: Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies 1. Handbuch der Zoologie. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 131–158. ISBN   3-11-015704-7.
  4. Christopher O'Toole, ed. (2002). Firefly Encyclopedia of Insects and Spiders . ISBN   1-55297-612-2.
  5. 1 2 Australian Biological Resources Study (October 9, 2008). "Gelechiidae". Australian Faunal Directory . Archived from the original on March 23, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  6. 1 2 "Gelechiidae". Fauna Europaea . December 22, 2009. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  7. "Gelechiidae". Tree of Life Web Project. May 1, 2008. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  8. Karsholt, Ole; Mutanen, Marko; Lee, Sangmi; Kaila, Lauri (April 2013). "A molecular analysis of the Gelechiidae (Lepidoptera, Gelechioidea) with an interpretative grouping of its taxa" (PDF). Systematic Entomology. 38 (2): 334–348. doi:10.1111/syen.12006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.