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Curved-horn moths
Xylorycta assimilis.jpg
Adult Xylorycta assimilis of the Xyloryctidae, photographed in Aranda (Australia)
Note prominent "horns" and long antennae
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Clade: Apoditrysia
Superfamily: Gelechioidea
Fracker, 1915
16-21 families (see text)

Gelechioidea (from the type genus Gelechia, "keeping to the ground") is the superfamily of moths that contains the case-bearers, twirler moths, and relatives, also simply called curved-horn moths or gelechioid moths. It is a large and poorly understood '"micromoth" superfamily, constituting one of the basal lineages of the Ditrysia.[1]

As of the 1990s, this superfamily was composed of about 1,425 genera and 16,250 species. It was estimated that only 25% of the species diversity of Gelechioidea had been described.[2] If this estimate is accurate, Gelechioidea will be one of the largest superfamilies of Lepidoptera.[1]

The name "curved-horn moths" refers to one of the few conspicuous features found in (almost) all Gelechioidea, and, at least in the more extreme developments, unique to them: the labial palps are well-developed (though not thickened), and form more or less gently curved protrusions whose end has a drawn-out, pointed tip. Their proboscis is generally well-developed, allowing for long-lived imagines (adults); the proximal part of the proboscis is scaly. Otherwise, the Gelechioidea vary extensively in habitus; most have small hind-wings with long, hairy fringes, though these are not easily seen in the living animal as they are tucked under the fore-wings at rest. The body is usually quite compressed, either dorsoventrally or laterally.[3]


The phylogeny and classification of the Gelechioidea remains a subject of considerable dispute. For example, the Elachistidae were at one time used as a sort of "wastebin taxon" to unite as subfamilies a variety of plesiomorphic members of this superfamily, which do not actually seem to form a monophyletic group. Many of these have now been moved to the Oecophoridae, but others are almost certainly likely families in their own right, while additional ones may well be so.[4]

In 2011 the superfamily was divided into 21 families, based mainly on morphological studies, with adjustments made for some molecular studies. The number of genera and an estimate of the species number are given in parentheses.[5]

  • Autostichidae Le Marchand, 1947 (72 genera, 638 species) – includes Deocloninae, Glyphidocerinae, Holcopogoninae, Symmocinae and Metachandini, which have sometimes been treated as families.
  • Batrachedridae Heinemann & Wocke, 1876 (10 genera, 99 species)
  • Blastobasidae Meyrick, 1894 (24 genera, 377 species) – previously considered a subfamily of Coleophoridae.
  • Chimabachidae Heinemann, 1870 (2 genera, 6 species)
  • Coelopoetidae Hodges, 1978 (1 genus, 3 species)
  • Coleophoridae Bruand, 1850 (case-bearers, case moths; 5 genera, 1,386 species)
  • Cosmopterigidae Heinemann & Wocke, 1876 (cosmet moths; 135 genera, 1,792 species)
  • Elachistidae Bruand, 1850 (grass-miner moths; 161 genera, 3,201 species) – includes Agonoxeninae (palm moths) and Ethmiinae, which have sometimes been treated as families.
  • Epimarptidae Meyrick, 1914 (1 genus, 4 species) – previously considered a subfamily of Batrachedridae.
  • Gelechiidae Stainton, 1854 (twirler moths; 500 genera, 4,700 species) – including Deocloninae, which has previously been treated as a family.
  • Lecithoceridae Le Marchand, 1947 (long-horned moths; 100 genera, 1,200 species)
  • Lypusidae Herrich-Schäffer, 1857 (3 genera, 21 species)
  • Momphidae Herrich-Schäffer, 1857 (mompha moths; 6 genera, 115 species) – previously considered a subfamily of Coleophoridae.
  • Oecophoridae Bruand, 1850 (concealer moths; 313 genera, 3,308 species)
  • Peleopodidae Hodges, 1974 (7 genera, 28 species)
  • Pterolonchidae Meyrick, 1918 (2 genera, 8 species) – previously considered a subfamily of Coleophoridae.
  • Schistonoeidae Hodges, 1998 (scavenger moth; 1 genus, 1 species)
  • Scythrididae Rebel, 1901 (flower moths; 30 genera, 669 species) – previously considered a subfamily of Xyloryctidae.
  • Stathmopodidae Janse, 1917 (44 genera, 408 species) – previously considered a subfamily of Oecophoridae.
  • Syringopaidae Hodges, 1998 (1 genus, 1 species) – previously considered a subfamily of Deoclonidae.
  • Xyloryctidae Meyrick, 1890 (60 genera, 524 species)

However, a later phylogenetic analysis of the Gelechioidea, using a morphological and molecular dataset, proposed a revision into 16 families, with the status of two further families, Schistonoeidae and Epimarptidae, unclear.[6]


  1. ^ a b Robinson et al. (1994), Hodges (1999), O'Toole (2002)
  2. ^ Hodges (1999)
  3. ^ Robinson et al. (1994)
  4. ^ Hodges (1999), O'Toole (2002), ToL (2009), Wikispecies (2009-OCT-12)
  5. ^ van Nieukerken et al, 2011
  6. ^ Heikkilä et al, 2014


Data related to Gelechioidea at Wikispecies See also associated Talk page for comparison of some approaches to gelechioid systematics and taxonomy.

  • Hodges, R.W. (1999): The Gelechioidea. In: Kristensen, N.P. (ed.): Handbuch der Zoologie/Handbook of Zoology (Volume IV – Arthropoda: Insecta. Part 35: Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies 1): 131–158. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin & New York. ISBN 3-11-015704-7
  • O'Toole, Christopher (ed.) (2002): Firefly Encyclopedia of Insects and Spiders. ISBN 1-55297-612-2
  • Robinson, G.S.; Tuck, K.R.; Shaffer, M. and Cook, K. (1994): The smaller moths of South-East Asia. Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur.
  • Tree of Life Web Project (ToL) (2009): Gelechioidea. Version of 2009-APR-02. Retrieved 2010-APR-22.
  • van Nieukerken, Erik J.; Kaila, Lauri; Kitching, Ian J.; Kristensen, Niels P.; Lees, David C.; Minet, Joël; Mitter, Charles; Mutanen, Marko; Regier, Jerome C.; Simonsen, Thomas J.; Wahlberg, Niklas; Yen, Shen-Horn; Zahiri, Reza; Adamski, David; Baixeras, Joaquin; Bartsch, Daniel; Bengtsson, Bengt Å.; Brown, John W.; Bucheli, Sibyl Rae; Davis, Donald R.; De Prins, Jurate; De Prins, Willy; Epstein, Marc E.; Gentili-Poole, Patricia; Gielis, Cees; Hättenschwiler, Peter; Hausmann, Axel; Holloway, Jeremy D.; Kallies, Axel; Karsholt, Ole; Kawahara, Akito Y.; Koster, Sjaak (J.C.); Kozlov, Mikhail V.; Lafontaine, J. Donald; Lamas, Gerardo; Landry, Jean-François; Lee, Sangmi; Nuss, Matthias; Park, Kyu-Tek; Penz, Carla; Rota, Jadranka; Schintlmeister, Alexander; Schmidt, B. Christian; Sohn, Jae-Cheon; Solis, M. Alma; Tarmann, Gerhard M.; Warren, Andrew D.; Weller, Susan; Yakovlev, Roman V.; Zolotuhin, Vadim V.; Zwick, Andreas (23 December 2011). Zhang, Zhi-Qiang (ed.). "Order Lepidoptera Linnaeus, 1758" (PDF). Zootaxa. Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness. 3148: 212–221.
  • Heikkilä, Maria; Mutanen, Marko; Kekkonen, Mari; Kaila, Lauri (2014). "Morphology reinforces proposed molecular phylogenetic affinities: a revised classification for Gelechioidea (Lepidoptera)". Cladistics. 30 (6): 563–589. doi:10.1111/cla.12064. ISSN 0748-3007.

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