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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 retain the Crambidae as a full family of Pyraloidea. [6]


The wingspans for small and medium-sized species are usually between 9 and 37 mm (0.35 and 1.46 in) with variable morphological features. [2] [7]

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. [8]

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: [9]

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. [15]

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 ): [15]

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.

Almond moth Species of moth

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.

Spilomelinae Subfamily of moths

Spilomelinae is a very species-rich subfamily of the lepidopteran family Crambidae, the crambid snout moths. With 4,132 described species in 340 genera worldwide, it is the most speciose group among pyraloids.

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>Ephestia</i> Genus of moths

Ephestia is a genus of small moths belonging to the family Pyralidae. Some species are significant pests of dry plant produce, such as seeds and cereals. Best known among these are probably the cacao moth and the Mediterranean flour moth.

<i>Cadra</i> Genus of moths

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.

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 moths

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 moths

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

Coleothrix is a genus of snout moths in the subfamily Phycitinae. It was described by Ragonot in 1888.

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.

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.

Cryptoblabes plagioleuca, the mango-flower moth, blossom moth or mango-flower webber, is a species of snout moth in the genus Cryptoblabes. It was described by Turner in 1904. It is found from Indonesia (Sumatra), New Hebrides, Australia and the Society Islands.

Cathyalia is a genus of snout moths. It was erected by Émile Louis Ragonot in 1888.

Phycitini Tribe of moths

The Phycitini are a tribe of moths of the family Pyralidae.

Indomalayia is a monotypic genus of snout moths that was first described by Rolf-Ulrich Roesler and Peter Victor Küppers in 1979. Its sole species is Indomalayia flabellifera, originally described by George Hampson in 1896 as Spatulipalpia flabellifera, which is found in India, Indonesia (Sumatra), Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Fergusson Island and Australia.

<i>Euzophera perticella</i> Species of moth

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


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  2. 1 2 Bartlett, Troy (July 11, 2018). "Family Pyralidae - Pyralid Moths". BugGuide. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
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  13. "Galleriinae". Fauna Europaea. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
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  15. 1 2 Pitkin, Brian & Jenkins, Paul. "Search results Family: Pyralidae". Butterflies and Moths of the World. Natural History Museum, London.