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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
Subsection: Tineina
Superfamily: Gelechioidea
Fracker, 1915
18 families (but 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[2] that only 25% of the species diversity of Gelechioidea had been described. 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 hindwings with long, hairy fringes, though these are not easily seen in the living animal as they are tucked under the forewings 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]

Following molecular research, the Gelechioidea are provisionally divided into the following family-level taxa:

Plus two families of unclear placement:

Before this revision, the superfamily was divided into the following family-level taxa:[5]

The genus Aeolanthes is sometimes placed in the Elachistidae, Lecithoceridae, or Oecophoridae as a monotypic subfamily (Aeolanthinae), but its actual relationships are not reliably determined yet.


  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. ^ Wikispecies (2009-OCT-12)


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.

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