Last updated

False plume moths
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Infraorder: Heteroneura
Clade: Eulepidoptera
Clade: Ditrysia
Clade: Apoditrysia
Superfamily: Alucitoidea
Family: Tineodidae
Meyrick, 1885
12 genera, about 20 species

Oxychirotidae Meyrick, 1885

The Tineodidae or false plume moths [1] are a family of moths with in some cases unusually modified wings: Like in some related moths, the wings of several Tineodidae are decomposed into several rigid spines. This is a small family, with about a global total of 20 species described to date; some undescribed species are known or suspected to exist however. They seem to be of Australian origin, where they are most diverse, but range through the Wallacea to Southeast and South Asia, and into the Pacific to the Marquesas Islands. [2]


Description and ecology

These moths are usually small (with wingspans around 1–2 cm/less than 1 inch) and brownish in color. They have large compound eyes, thread-like antennae, and prominent labial palps. The body is slender, and the legs bear large spines.. The amount of wing modification varies in this family. Some genera (e.g. Cenoloba , Oxychirota and Tanycnema ) resemble plume moths (superfamily Pterophoroidea), hence the common name "false plume moths". Others have little- or almost unmodified wings, and in some cases (e.g. Tineodes ) at a casual glance look like snout moths (family Pyralidae). The forewings may be simply drawn out to a slim point, or deeply divided into two narrow lobes. The hindwings are typically quite short, and may also be divided into two lobes. [3]

Feeding habits of the caterpillar larvae are not well known; while they all seem to feed on eudicots, there is no obvious preference for a particular lineage of these. Most Tineodidae larvae seem to be leaf miners as in closely related moth families. Those of Cenoloba obliteralis (and perhaps others) inhabit developing fruit instead, where they eat the young seeds. [3]

Systematics and taxonomy

The relationships of this group are disputed, and they were in fact not even considered a possibly monophyletic lineage for long. Initially, these moths were believed to be unusual Pyralidae (snout moths) or Pterophoroidea (plume moths). Only in the late 19th century was their distinctness realized, yet they were not considered as a monophyletic group. Rather, the more unusual forms were treated as a distinct family Oxychirotidae. This was subsequently merged into the Tineodidae which was originally established for the more conventional-looking false plume moths when it became clear that the two groups are very close relatives. [3]

Tineodidae are here united with the many-plumed moths (family Alucitidae) the superfamily Alucitoidea. It may be that these two groups are actually polyphyletic with regard to each other, and merging Tineodidae into Alucitidae and/or redelimiting the groups is warranted. In the taxonomic scheme used here, the closest living relatives of the Alucitoidea are considered the Pterophoroidea, but this is somewhat disputed. This would mean that the strong similarities between e.g. Tanycnema and the basal plume moth genus Agdistopis are not a coincidence. [4]

The alternative approach assumes the fruitworm moths (Copromorphoidea) are the closest living relatives of the Alucitidae, including the latter in an expanded Copromorphoidea with the fruitworm moths and the fringe-tufted moths (family Epermeniidae). In this scheme, the Alucitoidea do not exist, and the Tineodidae are included in the Pterophoroidea. Ultimately however, it is the affiliations of the Copromorphidae (which seem to be basal Obtectomera, somewhat more advanced than the others) which would decide which scheme to use. [5]


The genera presently placed here, sorted alphabetically, are: [6]


  1. ToL (2003)
  2. Clarke (1986), Herbison-Evans & Crossley (2010), ABRS (2011)
  3. 1 2 3 ABRS (2011)
  4. Minet (1991), ABRS (2011)
  5. Minet (1991)
  6. Wikispecies (2010)

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Many-plumed moth</span> Family of moths

The Alucitidae or many-plumed moths are a family of moths with unusually modified wings. Both fore- and hind-wings consist of about six rigid spines, from which radiate flexible bristles creating a structure similar to a bird's feather.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pyralidae</span> Family of moths

The Pyralidae, commonly called pyralid moths, snout moths or grass moths, are a family of Lepidoptera in the ditrysian superfamily Pyraloidea. In many 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Microlepidoptera</span> Grouping of moths

Microlepidoptera (micromoths) is an artificial grouping of moth families, commonly known as the "smaller moths". These generally have wingspans of under 20 mm, so are harder to identify by external phenotypic markings than macrolepidoptera. They present some lifestyles that the larger Lepidoptera do not have, but this is not an identifying mark. Some hobbyists further divide this group into separate groups, such as leaf miners or rollers, stem or root borers, and then usually follow the more rigorous scientific taxonomy of lepidopterans. Efforts to stabilize the term have usually proven inadequate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pyraloidea</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alucitoidea</span> Superfamily of moths

Aluctoidea is the superfamily of many-plumed and false plume moths. These small moths are most easily recognized by their wings. These each consist of many narrow strips of membrane around the major veins, instead of a continuous sheet of membrane between the veins. In living moths in the wild, this is often hard to see however. When they are at rest, the "plumes" partly overlap, appearing as solid wings. But even then, they can be recognized by the wings having a marked lengthwise pattern and uneven edge.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Epermeniidae</span> Family of moths

Epermeniidae or the fringe-tufted moths is a family of insects in the lepidopteran order with about 14 genera. Previously they have been divided in two subfamilies Epermeniinae and Ochromolopinae but this is no longer maintained since the last group is probably hierarchically nested within the first. They are presently placed in their own superfamily but have previously been placed among the Yponomeutoidea or Copromorphoidea with which they share some features. Their systematic placement among the apoditrysian group "Obtectomera" is however uncertain. They show some morphological similarities to the "plume moths", for example the wing fringe has similar groups of scales. There are also some similarities to Schreckensteinioidea, for example spiny legs and at least in some species an open-network cocoon. The genus Thambotricha from New Zealand may be the sister group of all other extant members. The most important genera are Epermenia, Ochromolopis and Gnathifera. The group has been extensively revised and catalogued by Dr Reinhard Gaedike.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spilomelinae</span> Subfamily of moths

Spilomelinae is a very species-rich subfamily of the lepidopteran family Crambidae, the crambid snout moths. With 4,135 described species in 344 genera worldwide, it is the most speciose group among pyraloids.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carposinoidea</span> Superfamily of moths

Carposinoidea, the "fruitworm moths", is a superfamily of insects in the lepidopteran order. The superfamily is also known as Copromorphoidea, which is a junior synonym. These moths are small to medium-sized and are broad-winged bearing some resemblance to the superfamilies Tortricoidea and Immoidea. The antennae are often "pectinate" especially in males, and many species of these well camouflaged moths bear raised tufts of scales on the wings and a specialised fringe of scales at the base of the hindwing sometimes in females only; there are a number of other structural characteristics. The position of this superfamily is not certain, but it has been placed in the natural group of "Apoditrysia" "Obtectomera", rather than with the superfamilies Alucitoidea or Epermenioidea within which it has sometimes previously been placed, on the grounds that shared larval and pupal characteristics of these groups have probably evolved independently. It has been suggested that the division into two families should be abandoned.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taxonomy of the Lepidoptera</span> Classification of moths and butterflies

The insect order Lepidoptera consists of moths, most of which are night-flying, and a derived group, mainly day-flying, called butterflies. Within Lepidoptera as a whole, the groups listed below before Glossata contain a few basal families accounting for less than 200 species; the bulk of Lepidoptera are in the Glossata. Similarly, within the Glossata, there are a few basal groups listed first, with the bulk of species in the Heteroneura. Basal groups within Heteroneura cannot be defined with as much confidence, as there are still some disputes concerning the proper relations among these groups. At the family level, however, most groups are well defined, and the families are commonly used by hobbyists and scientists alike.

Chrysophyllis is a genus of the grass moth family (Crambidae). It is monotypic, containing the single species Chrysophyllis lucivaga. This moth is very little known, having only been recorded once, before 1935. It belongs to the large grass moth subfamily Spilomelinae; at the time of its description, these were still included in subfamily Pyraustinae and the entire Crambidae was then merged with the snout moths. While its exact relationships are undetermined, it is believed to be a close relative of Talanga. Like these, the male genitalia of C. lucivaga feature a remarkably elongated aedeagus shaped like a bullwhip.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Obtectomera</span> Clade of macro-moths and butterflies

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

<i>Erechthias</i> Genus of moths

Erechthias is a genus of the fungus moth family, Tineidae. Therein, it belongs to the subfamily Erechthiinae, of which it is the type genus. The exact circumscription of this genus is still disputed, but it may encompass more than 150 species.

<i>Opogona</i> Genus of moths

Opogona is a genus of the fungus moth family, Tineidae. Therein, it belongs to the subfamily Hieroxestinae. As it includes Opogona omoscopa, the type species of the now-abolished genus Hieroxestis, it is the type genus of its subfamily.

<i>Pyralis pictalis</i> Species of moth

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.

<i>Diaphania indica</i> Species of moth

Diaphania indica, the cucumber moth or cotton caterpillar, is a widespread but mainly Old World moth species. It belongs to the grass moth family, and therein to the large subfamily Spilomelinae. This moth occurs in many tropical and subtropical regions outside the Americas, though it is native to southern Asia; it is occasionally a significant pest of cucurbits and some other plants.

<i>Alucita</i> Largest genus of the many-plumed moths (Alucitidae)

Alucita is the largest genus of many-plumed moths ; it is also the type genus of its family and the disputed superfamily Alucitoidea. This genus occurs almost worldwide and contains about 180 species as of 2011; new species are still being described and discovered regularly. Formerly, many similar moths of superfamilies Alucitoidea, Copromorphoidea and Pterophoroidea were also placed in Alucita.

Ernophthora is a genus of small moths belonging to the snout moth family (Pyralidae). They form part of the Cabniini, a rather small tribe of the huge snout moth subfamily Phycitinae. This genus is generally found in the Australia-Pacific region.

<i>Phycita</i> Genus of moths

Phycita is a genus of small moths belonging to the snout moth family (Pyralidae). They are the type genus of their tribe Phycitini and of the huge snout moth subfamily Phycitinae.

Tanycnema is a monotypic moth genus of the family Tineodidae or false plume moths. It was described by Alfred Jefferis Turner in 1922. Turner described the genus in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, writing:

Gen. Tanycnema, nov.

Frons with a strong anterior tuft of hairs. Tongue present. Palpi rather long, porrect. Maxillary palpi obsolete. Antennae short. Legs long, slender; outer tibial spurs about 3/4 length of inner spurs. Forewings narrow, elongate; 2 from well before angle, 3 from angle, 4 and 5 somewhat approximate at origin, 6 from upper angle, 7, 8, 9, 10 stalked, 7 arising slightly before 10, 11 free. Hindwings twice as broad as forewings; 2 from 3/4, 3 from angle, 4 and 5 somewhat approximate at origin, 6 well separated at origin from 5, still more widely from 7, 7 from upper angle, closely approximated to 12 for some distance, but not anastomosing.

A peculiar, isolated, and primitive genus. The wide separation of 6 from 7 of the hindwings, and the absence of any anastomosis of 7 with 12 are primitive characters; on the other hand the relative approximation of 5 to 4 in the hindwings, and the stalking of 7 and 10 of the forewings are specialised characters, the former being unique in this family, to which the genus must, I think, be referred, though the absence of maxillary palpi, suggests some relationship to the Pterophoridae, but this may be more apparent than real.