Cone Case Moth
Tower Case Moth
Less-stick Case Moth


Case Moths, Bag Moths - Family Psychidae

Order Lepidoptera

This page contains pictures and information about Case Moths and Bag Moths that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
Case Moth larva's case 
Members in this family are known as Case Moths, Bagworms or Bag Moths. The caterpillars are from small to large size. Most species the caterpillars live in a mobile case. The case is made of silk and host plant materials or a few species mixed with grains of sand. Each species make case in different shapes. Most of them feed on a variety of plants. When rest they stick the top opening on stem and hang their bag vertically.
The case has two openings, one at the top and other at the bottom. The caterpillar comes out from the top to feed and ejects the waste form the bottom end. The bottom opening, which is smaller than the top opening, is also the exit hatch for the emerging adult. We can sometimes see the empty pupal case left at the bottom opening of the case. We also saw once the caterpillar came out from the bottom end when its way was stuck at the top end.
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Small case                                                            Large Caterpillar with large bag                             Adult emerged with empty case left
Most Case Moth caterpillars are leaf miners when they are very small.
The Case Moth caterpillars may take several years before they come to the pupate stage. We need some patient to rear the case moths. They pupate within the case. For most species in this family, female will not develop wings and will never come out of the bag. It just waits for a winged male inside her bag. 
After mating, females lay eggs inside the bag. Small caterpillars hatched and lower themselves onto ground by a strong silken thread. Then those small caterpillars made the small portable case attached with small pieces of leaves or barks.    
The adult moths are small to medium size, with relatively small eyes and small antenna. The head is usually surrounded with long hairs. The mouthparts are reduced and Case Moth adults do not feed. 
Adult Case Moths are not commonly seen. We do not have any their photo yet. Males are always fully-winged but females may be fully-winged or with reduced wings. 

Subfamily Taleporiinae

Adult females in this subfamily Taleporiinae are either fully-winged or short-winged.

Subfamily Psychinae

Adult females of all species in this subfamily Psychinae are flightless and with wings reduced. They remain in the case wait for male. They mate and lay eggs inside the case, usually within the pupal cuticle. 

Unknown Case Moths


Wattle Case Moth Caterpillar attacked by Ichneumon Wasp

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Case 50mm in length
Living inside the case does not guarantee safety.  In early spring 2003 we found this case moth caterpillar (Wattle Case Moth) attacked by a Ichneumon Wasp on a Acacia tree. Although the caterpillar was inside its case bag, which was quite useless as the prevention of wasp attack. We saw the caterpillar headed out a few times try to get rid of the wasp but no success. The wasp kept on punching her long ovipositor into the case bag for over halve an hour. This case moth species makes case out of silk and plants materials mixed with grains of sand.

1. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p435.
2. Moths of Australia - I. F. B. Common, Melbourne University Press, 1990, p174.
3. Insects of Australia - CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p848. 
4. PSYCHIDAE of Australia - Caterpillars of Australian Moths - Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley, 2007.
5. Case moths, bag moths or bagworms - Chris Burwell, Queensland Museum, 2006. 
7. Northern Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009. 


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Last updated: July 24, 2011.