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"Goat miller" redirects here. For the species called "goat moth", see Cossus cossus.
Cossula magnifica (Cossulinae)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Cossoidea
Family: Cossidae
Leach, 1815

Cossidae, the cossid millers or carpenter millers, make up a family of mostly large miller moths. Ths family contains over 110 genera with almost 700 known species, and many more species await description. Carpenter millers are nocturnal Lepidoptera found worldwide, except the Southeast Asian subfamily Ratardinae which is mostly active during the day.

This family includes many species with large caterpillars and moths with a wingspan from 9–24 cm (3 129 12 in). These moths are mostly grey in color; some have long narrow wings and resemble hawkmoths (Sphingidae) which are more advanced Macrolepidoptera however. Many are twig, bark or leaf mimics, and Cossidae often have some sort of large marking at the tip of the forewing uppersides, conspicuous in flight but resembling a broken-off twig when the animals are resting. Most cossid caterpillars are tree borers, in some species taking up to three years to mature. The caterpillars pupate within their tunnels; they often have an unpleasant smell, hence another colloquial name is goat moths.

The family includes the Carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae) and the goat moth (Cossus cossus) which have gained notoriety as pests. On the other hand, the large caterpillars of species that do not smell badly are often edible. Witchetty grubs – among the Outback's most famous bush tucker – are most commonly the caterpillars of Endoxyla leucomochla, one of the more than 80 cossid species in Australia. In Chile, the sweet-smelling caterpillars of the Chilean Moth (Chilecomadia moorei) are harvested in quantity and internationally traded as butterworms, for use as pet food and fishing bait.


Some other families, such as Dudgeoneidae, Metarbelidae and Ratardidae, have been included within this one time and again. The first is considered a distinct family of the Cossoidea today recognizable by their abdominal tympanal organs which the Cossidae lack, whereas the other two are usually kept in the Cossidae as subfamilies. Some unrelated millers were included in the Cossidae in error too, such as the genus Holcoceroides which are more primitive Ditrysia, or the Andesianidae which are even more ancient Heteroneura.

The Cossidae were usually divided into six subfamilies.[1] However, numerous new subfamilies have been described recently, the current taxonomy is:

Specimens of the large Zeuzerinae genus Xyleutes
Zyganisus caliginosus belongs to an Australian genus of unclear affiliations

Incertae sedis

Excluded genera[edit]


  1. ^ Pitkin & Jenkins (2004) and see references in Savela (2006)


  • Pitkin, Brian & Jenkins, Paul (2004): Butterflies and Moths of the World, Generic Names and their Type-species – Cossidae. Version of 2004-NOV-05. Retrieved 2009-FEB-28.
  • Savela, Markku (2006): Markku Savela's Lepidoptera and some other life forms – Cossidae. Version of December 28, 2006. Retrieved February 28, 2009.

External links[edit]