Last updated

Snout moths
Pyralis farinalis01.jpg
Meal moth ( Pyralis farinalis )
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Pyraloidea
Family: Pyralidae
Latreille, 1809 [1]
Type species
Pyralis farinalis
c. 6,150 species
Sciota uvinella, larva found on sweetgum Sciota uvinella larva.jpg
Sciota uvinella , larva found on sweetgum

The Pyralidae, commonly called pyralid moths, [2] snout moths or grass moths, [3] are a family of Lepidoptera in the ditrysian superfamily Pyraloidea. [4] [5] In many (particularly older) classifications, the grass moths (Crambidae) are included in the Pyralidae as a subfamily, making the combined group one of the largest families in the Lepidoptera. The latest review by Eugene G. Munroe and Maria Alma Solis, in Kristensen (1999)[ full citation needed ] retains the Crambidae as a full family of Pyraloidea.


The wingspans for small and medium-sized species are usually between 9 and 37 mm with variable morphological features. [2] [6]

It is a diverse group, with more than 6,000 species described worldwide, and more than 600 species in America north of Mexico, comprising the third largest moth family in North America. At least 42 species have been recorded from North Dakota in the subfamilies of Pyralidae. [7]

Relationship with humans

Most of these small moths are inconspicuous. Many are economically important pests, including waxworms, which are the caterpillar larvae of the greater ( Galleria mellonella ) and lesser ( Achroia grisella ) wax moths (subfamily Galleriinae). They are natively pests of beehives, but are bred indoors in enormous numbers as live food for small reptile and bird pets and similar animals. They are also used as fishing bait for trout fishing.

Other notable snout moth pests relevant for their larval hosts include: [8]

The European corn borer ( Ostrinia nubilalis ) and southern cornstalk borer ( Diatraea crambidoides ), formerly considered snout moths, are placed in the Crambidae which, as noted above, are usually regarded as a separate family today.


SEM microphoto of the head of a snout moth - note the "snout" (labial palps) extending to the upper left above the proboscis Butterfly tongue.jpg
SEM microphoto of the head of a snout moth note the "snout" (labial palps) extending to the upper left above the proboscis

Five subfamilies are generally recognized in the Pyralidae today. The Acentropinae (= Nymphulinae), occasionally still placed here, do indeed seem to belong in the Crambidae.

The snout moth subfamilies are, listed in the presumed phylogenetic sequence from the most primitive to the most advanced:

Problematic genera

In addition to those assigned to the tribes above, several genera of (presumed) Pyralidae are not firmly placed in this arrangement, but are incertae sedis . Some may be very basal lineages which stand outside the main snout moth radiations, but given the changing circumscription of the Pyralidae, some are likely to be placed outside this group in its modern meaning, either in the Crambidae or in other lineages of basal Obtectomera. Some may even belong to more ancient moth lineages, such as the Alucitoidea or Pterophoroidea. Finally, some of these (usually little-studied) genera possibly are junior synonyms of genera described earlier. These genera are in the unranked category of the family Pyralidae. [14]

The genera in question are:

These genera have been placed in the Pyralidae when these were still circumscribed sensu lato and are sometimes still treated thus, but actually they seem to belong in the Crambidae (see also Micronix and Tanaobela ): [14]

Related Research Articles

Crambidae Family of moths

The Crambidae are the grass moth family of lepidopterans. They are variable in appearance, the nominal subfamily Crambinae taking up closely folded postures on grass stems where they are inconspicuous, while other subfamilies include brightly coloured and patterned insects which rest in wing-spread attitudes.

Pyraloidea Superfamily of moths

The Pyraloidea are a moth superfamily containing about 16,000 described species worldwide, and probably at least as many more remain to be described. They are generally fairly small moths, and as such, they have been traditionally associated with the paraphyletic Microlepidoptera.

Indianmeal moth Species of moth

The Indianmeal moth, also spelled as Indian meal moth and Indian-meal moth, is a pyraloid moth of the family Pyralidae. Alternative common names are weevil moth, pantry moth, flour moth or grain moth. The almond moth and the raisin moth are commonly confused with the Indian-meal moth due to similar food sources and appearance. The species was named after being noted for feeding on Indian-meal or cornmeal and it does not occur natively in India as the usage Indian mealmoth would suggest. It is also not to be confused with the Mediterranean flour moth, another common pest of stored grains.

Almond moth species of insect

The almond moth or tropical warehouse moth is a small, stored-product pest. Almond moths infest flour, bran, oats, and other grains, as well as dried fruits. It belongs to the family of snout moths (Pyralidae), and more specifically to the tribe Phycitini of the huge snout moth subfamily Phycitinae. This species may be confused with the related Indian mealmoth or the Mediterranean flour moth, which are also common pantry pests in the same subfamily.

Pyralinae Subfamily of moths

The Pyralinae are the typical subfamily of snout moths and occur essentially worldwide, in some cases aided by involuntary introduction by humans. They are rather rare in the Americas however, and their diversity in the Australian region is also limited. Altogether, this subfamily includes about 900 described species, but new ones continue to be discovered. Like many of their relatives in the superfamily Pyraloidea, the caterpillar larvae of many Pyralinae – and in some cases even the adults – have evolved the ability to use unusual foods for nutrition; a few of these can become harmful to humans as pests of stored goods.

Pyralini Tribe of moths

The Pyralini are a tribe of snout moths described by Pierre André Latreille in 1809. They belong to the subfamily Pyralinae, which contains the "typical" snout moths of the Old World and some other regions. The genus list presented here is provisional.

<i>Cadra</i> genus of insects

Cadra is a genus of small moths belonging to the family Pyralidae. The genus Ephestia is closely related to Cadra and might be its senior synonym. Several of these moths are variously assigned to one or the other genus, in particular in non-entomological sources. Cadra and Ephestia belong to the huge snout moth subfamily Phycitinae, and therein to the tribe Phycitini.

<i>Pyralis pictalis</i> species of insect

Pyralis pictalis, the painted meal moth or poplar pyralis, is a snout moth. It is closely related to the family's type species the meal moth and consequently belongs to the tribe Pyralini of the snout moth subfamily Pyralinae. Its native range is tropical Asia to East Asia and to Wallacea and adjacent regions, but it has been quite widely distributed by humans. The term "Poplar" in its common name does not refer to the trees, but to Poplar, London, where the type specimen – from such an introduction – was caught. It was called scarce meal moth in the original description, which is only correct for the fringes of its range however.

Phycitinae Subfamily of moths

The Phycitinae are a subfamily of snout moths. Even though the Pyralidae subfamilies are all quite diverse, Phycitinae stand out even by standards of their family: with over 600 genera considered valid and more than 4000 species placed here at present, they unite up more than three-quarters of living snout moth diversity. Together with the closely related Epipaschiinae, they are apparently the most advanced lineage of snout moths.

Galleriinae subfamily of insects

The Galleriinae are a subfamily of snout moths and occur essentially worldwide, in some cases aided by involuntary introduction by humans. This subfamily includes the wax moths, whose caterpillars (waxworms) are bred on a commercial scale as food for pets and as fishing bait; in the wild, these and other species of Galleriinae may also be harmful to humans as pests.

Chrysauginae subfamily of insects

The Chrysauginae are a subfamily of snout moths. They are primarily Neotropical and include about 400 described species.

Epipaschiinae subfamily of insects

The Epipaschiinae are a subfamily of snout moths. Almost 600 species are known today, which are found mainly in the tropics and subtropics. Some occur in temperate regions, but the subfamily is apparently completely absent from Europe, at least as native species. A few Epipaschiinae are crop pests that may occasionally become economically significant.

<i>Aphomia sabella</i> Species of moth

Aphomia sabella, the greater date moth, is a species of snout moth in the genus Aphomia. It was described by George Hampson in 1901 and is known from the Persian Gulf, Algeria and Iran. It was first recorded in Spain in 1999.

Cadra acuta is a species of snout moth in the genus Cadra. It was described by Marianne Horak in 1994. It is found in the Northern Territory as well as on the Cape York Peninsula in Australia.

Cadra corniculata is a species of snout moth in the genus Cadra. It was described by Marianne Horak in 1994. It is found in western Australia.

Cadra rugosa is a species of snout moth in the genus Cadra. It was described by Marianne Horak in 1994. It is found in central Australia.

<i>Cadra reniformis</i> species of insect

Cadra reniformis is a species of snout moth in the genus Cadra. It was described by Marianne Horak in 1994. It is found along the northern coast of Australia from Townsville to Darwin, mainly in monsoon forest.

Cadra perfasciata is a species of snout moth in the genus Cadra. It was described by Marianne Horak in 1994. It is found in the southern arid areas of Australia, on both sides of the Nullarbor Plain.

<i>Euzophera perticella</i> species of insect

Euzophera perticella is a species of snout moth in the genus Euzophera.

Wurthiini is a tribe of the species-rich subfamily Spilomelinae in the pyraloid moth family Crambidae.


  1. Savela, Markku (December 27, 2018). "Pyralidae Latreille, 1809". Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  2. 1 2 Bartlett, Troy (July 11, 2018). "Family Pyralidae - Pyralid Moths". BugGuide. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  3. "Pyralidae Snout Moths". Discover Life. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  4. "Taxonomy - Pyralidae (snout moths)". UniProt. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  5. "Family Pyralidae". Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  6. Lotts, Kelly & Naberhaus, Thomas (2017). "Family Pyralidae (Pyralid Moths)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  7. "Family Pyralidae: Pyralid snout moths". Moths of North Dakota. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  8. Kimber, Ian. "Phycitinae". UKMoths. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  9. "Cadra cautella Walker, 1863 - Tropical Warehouse Moth". BioNET-EAFRINET. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  10. "Subfamily Chrysauginae". BugGuide. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  11. "Grass Moths". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  12. "Galleriinae". Fauna Europaea. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  13. Savela, Markku (January 5, 2019). "Pyralinae Latreille". Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  14. 1 2 Pitkin, Brian & Jenkins, Paul. "Search results Family: Pyralidae". Butterflies and Moths of the World. Natural History Museum, London.