Pyralidae

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Snout moths
Unidentified snout moth imago,
Del Rio, Texas (USA)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
(unranked): Obtectomera
Superfamily: Pyraloidea
Family: Pyralidae
Latreille, 1802
Type species
Pyralis farinalis
Linnaeus, 1758
Subfamilies

Chrysauginae
Epipaschiinae
Galleriinae
Phycitinae
Pyralinae

Diversity
c. 6,150 species

The Pyralidae or snout moths are a family of Lepidoptera in the ditrysian superfamily Pyraloidea. 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 Munroe & Solis, in Kristensen (1999)[full citation needed] retains the Crambidae as a full family of pyraloidea.

Relationship with humans[edit]

Most of these small moths are inconspicuous and of no particular significance to humans. Some are more notable, however. Perhaps the most familiar are 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 moths are primarily relevant due to their larval food choice. Examples include:

Note that 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, is usually regarded as a separate family today.

Systematics[edit]

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:

  • Chrysauginae (including Bradypodicolinae, Semniidae) – about 400 species occurring predominantly in the Neotropical region. Larvae typically feed on plants, but some have more unusual feeding habits. The latter include for example some myrmecophilous species, as well as a number of sloth moths which are dependent on sloths for their entire life cycle. Most Chrysauginae larvae have a sclerotised ring around seta SD1 of the metathorax.
  • Galleriinae (including Macrothecinae) – about 300 species worldwide. The males of galleriine moths have a gnathos almost or completely reduced, the pupae have a prominent dorsal median ridge on the thorax and abdomen, and most larvae have a sclerotised ring around seta SD1 of the first abdominal segment.
  • Epipaschiinae (including Pococerinae) – over 550 described species in the tropical and temperate regions (except Europe). Larvae are leaf rollers, leaf tiers or leaf miners. Some species are minor pests of a few commercial crops. Epipaschiinae are generally hard to recognize, except in the case of adult males which have a few characteristic traits, such as the upturned and pointed third segment of the labial palps and usually a scaly projection from the antenna base. The larvae lack any stereotyped seta sclerotisations.
  • Phycitinae (including Anerastiinae, Peoriinae) – probably the most difficult group of Pyraloidea in terms of identification and classification. They comprise more than 600 genera and about 4000 species found all over the world. The characteristic trait of the caterpillars is a sclerotised area encircling the base of seta SD1 on the mesothorax, while the adult females have – like the males of Pyralidae in general do – a frenulum consisting of a single bristle which in turn is composed of multiple acanthae.

Genera incertae sedis[edit]

In addition to those assigned to the tribes above, there are several genera of (presumed) Pyralidae which are not firmly placed in this arrangement. 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, it is possible that some of these (usually little-studied) genera are junior synonyms of genera described earlier. The genera in question are:

The following 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):

External links[edit]

Data related to Pyralidae at Wikispecies