Noctuidae

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Owlet moths
Egybolis vaillantina
Grammodes geometrica
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Noctuidae
Latreille, 1809 (recent major revisions by Lafontaine & Fibiger (2006)
Hacker & Zilli (2007)
Lafontaine & Schmidt (2010))
Type species
Noctua pronuba
Subfamilies

Acontiinae
Acronictinae
Aganainae
Agaristinae
Amphipyrinae
Araeopteroninae
Bagisarinae
Balsinae
Bryophilinae
Catocalinae
Cocytiinae
Condicinae
Cuculliinae
Cydosiinae
Dilobinae
Diphtherinae
Eriopinae
Eucocytiinae
Eustrotiinae
Hadeninae
Heliothinae
Lophonyctinae
Metoponiinae
Noctuinae
Oncocnemidinae
Pantheinae
Phytometrinae
Plusiinae
Psaphidinae
Raphiinae
Sinocharinae
Stictopterinae
Stiriinae
Strepsimaninae
Thiacidinae
Ufeinae

Diversity
About 4,200 genera,
35,000 species

The Noctuidae or owlet moths are a family of robustly built moths that includes more than 35,000 known species out of possibly 100,000 total, in more than 4,200 genera. They constitute the largest family in the Lepidoptera.

Their distribution is worldwide, with about 1,450 species found in Europe.[1][2][3]

Most have drab forewings, although some have brightly coloured hindwings. Differences between the sexes are usually few. The overwhelming majority of noctuids fly at night and are almost invariably strongly attracted to light. Many are also attracted to sugar and nectar-rich flowers.[citation needed]

Some of the family are preyed upon by bats. However, many Noctuidae species have tiny organs in their ears that responds to bat echolocation calls, sending their wing muscles into spasm and causing the moths to dart erratically. This aids the moths in evading the bats.[4]

Several species have larvae (caterpillars) that live in the soil and are agricultural or horticultural pests. These are the "cutworms" that eat the bases of young brassicas and lettuces. They form hard, shiny pupae. Most noctuid larvae feed at night, resting in the soil or in a crevice in its food plant during the day.[citation needed]

The Noctuidae are also remarkable for containing an extraordinary number of species whose caterpillars are able to feed on certain poisonous plants without harm. These foodplants — namely Solanaceae (e.g., Nicotiana) and Fabaceae (e.g., Sophora) — contain chemicals that would kill most insects trying to feed on them.[citation needed]

Systematics[edit]

Division into subfamilies, and the number of subfamilies is unsatisfactory and varies somewhat in various taxonomical systems. Several moth genera are not yet robustly assigned to subfamilies:

Recent molecular studies,[5][6] however, have shown that the family Noctuidae is paraphyletic. The subfamily Plusiinae should be raised to family status. The Noctuidae sensu stricto should be confined to trifines. The quadrifid noctuid subfamilies are paraphyletic (or perhaps polyphyletic) and should be grouped in a clade with the Arctiidae and Lymantriidae. The terms "trifid" and "quadrifid" refer to the number of veins from the lower part of the hindwing midcell.

See list of noctuid genera.

Example species[edit]

Acronictinae

Amphipyrinae

Cuculliinae

Hadeninae

Heliothinae

Noctuidae in a farm field.

Noctuinae

Plusiinae

Additional examples:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fibiger, M., 1990. Noctuinae 1. - Noctuidae Europaeae 1, Sorø, Denmark
  2. ^ Fibiger, M., 1993. Noctuinae 2. - Noctuidae Europaeae 2, Sorø, Denmark
  3. ^ Fibiger, M., 1997. Noctuinae 3. - Noctuidae Europaeae 3, Sorø, Denmark.
  4. ^ Roeder, K.D. (1974). Acoustic sensory responses and possible bat-evasion tactics of certain moths. In Proc. Canadian Society of Zoologists’ Annual Meeting, M.D.B. Burt, ed. (Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Press), pp. 71–78. Surlykke, A. (1984). Hearing in Notodontid moths: A tympanic organ with a single auditory neuron. J. Exp. Biol. 113, 323–335. Ratcliffe, J.M., Fullard, J.H., Arthur, B.J., and Hoy, R.R. (2009). Tiger moths and the threat of bats: decision-making based on the activity of a single sensory neuron. Biol. Lett. 5, 368–371. "An Aerial-Hawking Bat Uses Stealth Echolocation to Counter Moth Hearing" Holger R. Goerlitz, Hannah M. ter Hofstede, Matt R.K. Zeale, Gareth Jones, and Marc W. Holderied - Current Biology 20, 1568–1572, September 14, 2010 doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.07.046
  5. ^ Weller, S. J., Pashley, D. P., Martin, J. A., and Constable, J. L. (1994). "Phylogeny of noctuoid moths and the utility of combining independent nuclear and mitochondrial genes". Systematic Biology (Systematic Biology, Vol. 43, No. 2) 43 (43): 194–211. doi:10.2307/2413461. JSTOR 2413461. 
  6. ^ Andrew Mitchell, Charles Mitter, Jerome C. Regier (2006). "Systematics and evolution of the cutworm moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): evidence from two protein-coding nuclear genes". Systematic Entomology 1 (31): 21–46.  abstract online

External links[edit]

On the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site: