Case Moths &
Case Moths 
Scribbly Gum Moth 
Leaf Miners
Concealer Moths &
Concealer Moths
Timber Moths
Small Grey Moth
Day Flying Moths
Goat Moth
Sun Moths
Metalmark Moths
Forester Moths 
Cup Moths
Pyralid Moths
Plume Moths
Teak Moths
Pyralid Moths
Pyralid Moths
Looper Moths
Anthelid Moths
Bag-shelter Moths
Prominents Moths
Tussock Moths
Tiger Moths
Tiger Moths
Owl Moths 


Moths - Order Lepidoptera

This page contains pictures and information about Moths and Caterpillars that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.

Looper Moth, wingspan 50mm
Butterflies and Moths are closely related insects which are classified together as one Lepidoptera order, meaning 'scaly  wings'. All of them have scales on wings. The colour of the butterflies and moths are formed by the scales which cover the wings. Those scales will come off easily and this is considered as an evolved weapon against the Spider's web. Another feature of butterflies and moths are their mouths, or their proboscis, that curl up under the heads. Their proboscis can be extended and inserted into the flowers to suck up liquid food.
Most butterflies are colourful and fly by day while most moths are dull in colour and active at night. However there are some exceptions, a few species of moths are day flying and as colourful as butterflies. The major different between butterflies and moths are when at rest, most butterflies hold their wings upright over their back while the moths usually hold  their wings open and flat. Their antennae are also different. Most butterflies have their antennae smooth and straight, with a 'club' at the end. Moths have their antennae without club and some are feather like. 
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Caterpillar                                                            Pupa                                                                     Scales on wing
Moths are much more diverse than butterflies in Brisbane and in the world. Some of them we found are not yet identified. Adults moths body size are range from 3mm to 60mm. The larva, or caterpillar, with a head and soft thorax and usually 10- segmented abdomen. They are complete metamorphosis. The adults usually feed on nectar and pollen, while most caterpillars feed on plant leaves, but some feed on wood or roots.

Classification :  

Superfamily TINEOIDEA

Family Psychidae - Case Moths 
Most species the caterpillars live in a mobile case. The case is made of silk and plants materials. Each species make case in different shapes. For some species, if it is a female, it will not develop wings and will never come out of the bag. It just wait for a winged male in her bag.
Family Bucculatricidae - Scribbly Gum Moths
The larvae in this family are very small and we may not want to call them caterpillars. They are usually leaf miners although the famous one in this family is the under bark miner. 
Family Gracillariidae - Leaf Miners 
The caterpillars in this family form tunnels and cavities in the spongy layer between the upper and lower surfaces of leaves. Their adult moths are slander and small in size. Their wings are narrows, with long hair along the hind wing margins.


Family Oecophoridae - Concealer Moths
In this family the caterpillar habits are diverse, but most are feed on Eucalyptus, include live or dead materials. We only found one species in this family                                                                        . 
Family Xyloryctidae - Timber Moths
In some reference, this group is put under family Oecophoridae as subfamily Xyloryctinae. Moths in Xyloryctidae are medium in size with stout body. They are usually partially white with checkered apical wing margin. As those moths in Oecophoridae, they have the upturn pointed stickle-shaped labial palpi in front of their head.
Family Blastobasidae - Small Grey Moths
Blastobasidae is a small family. There are about 10 species in Australia and all of them are in genus Blastobasis. They are small dull grey moths. They rest with wings folded around body. The larvae feed on dead plant materials.
Family Cosmopterigidae - Narrow-winged Moths
Moths in this family are from very small to small in size. They are usually black, grey or white in colours. The labial palps are long and recurved. The wings are long and narrow. The larvae are borer in stems, seeds or forming galls. Some are predators of scale insects.
Family Gelechiidae - Gelechid Moths
Moths in family Gelechiidae are very small to small in size. They are dull colours with narrow wings. Their larvae live in joined leaves. They feed on seeds or mine in leaves and stems.     
Family Lecithoceridae - Long-horned Moths
Moths in this family Lecithoceridae have antenna length as the body length, and the antenna are put in front when resting. The wings are hold flat above abdomen. They have lone upturned palpi. Larvae are hairy. It is believed that they feed on dead plant materials.  

Superfamily  COSSOIDEA

Family Cossidae - Wood Moth and Goat Moth
Moths in the family Cossidae are from large to very large size. They have long and narrow wings like those of Hawk moths. They are mostly brown or grey in colours. The adult moths in this family do not feed so their mouth parts are largely reduced. 


Family Tortricidae - Leafrollers, Bell Moths 
Some member of this family are called Leafrollers because their caterpillars roll the leaves of their foodplant. They are sometimes called Bell Moths because their adults have the shape of  church bell.


Family Castniidae - Sun Moths
They fly during the day and have clubbed antenna, but they are not butterflies. They are Sun Moths. A family of moths that active during the day. They usually have brown forewings but bright colour hind wings. Their caterpillars are hardly be seen for they tunnel in soil.

Superfamily SESIOIDEA

Family Choreutidae - Metalmark Moths
Moths in this family are from very small to small size. They usually have the metallic colours on broad wings and are active during the day. They rest with their wings raised and curled. They walk with rapid jerky style. If disturbed, they are readily to take off.


Family Zygaenidae - Forester Moths
The moths in this family are from small to large size. They are usually in  metallic blue, green or black colours. They are active during the day.
Family Limacodidae - Cup Moths 
They are named 'Cup Moths' because the shape of their pupal cocoon look like a cup. Most caterpillars have their stinging hairs when disturbed, and they usually have the bright warning colours. Adults have fat and furry bodies, from small to medium size.\

Superfamily PYRALOIDEA

Family Pterophoridae - Plume Moths
This is a small moth family. Moths in family Pterophoridae are known as Plume Moths. Plume Moths are from small to medium in size. They are easily recognized. When rest, they hold out their wings hight and at right angle to their long thin body. The caterpillars are usually with short hairs on body. 
Family Hyblaeidae - Teak Moths
Hyblaeidae is a small moth family. Moths in this family have strong thorax, small head and long palps. Caterpillars in family Hyblaeidae feed on leaves of teak (Verbenaceae) and Vitex (Bignoniaceae). 
wpe2.jpg (28770 bytes)Family Crambidae - Crambid Moths
Their caterpillars have many different types of habits. Most are concealed feeder, living in lives tied with silk, in silken webs or in leaf cases jointed by silk. Some bore in stems or fruits while some live in plant materials on ground or in soil.
wpe2.jpg (28770 bytes)Family Pyralidae - Pyralid Moths
Family PYRALIDAE was recently split into CRAMBIDAE and PYRALIDAE.  In general, moths in this two families rest with wings in triangular shape. They are small in size and have relatively long legs.


wpe4.jpg (40187 bytes)Family Geometridae - Looper 
Most Caterpillars in this family only have one or two pair of prolegs. They move with curving their bodies into loops and usually hairless and with slender body. The moths have camouflaged wing patterns of wavy lines extend across both fore and hind wings.


Family Lasiocampidae - Snout Moths
The Caterpillars of this family are medium to large size. Most have a pair of dorsal glands on abdomen. Many have flaps of skin overhanging their prolegs and they like to lie along twigs. The adult moths are large and stout, have elongated mouth parts.
wpe5.jpg (30669 bytes)wpe2.jpg (25058 bytes)Family Anthelidae - Anthelid Moths
The Caterpillars are from medium to very large size. They are very hairy. Their heads are large, and usually have the wearing sunglass look. ANTHELIDAE moths fly at night. They have stout hairy body and board wings.
Family Eupterotidae - Bag-shelter Moths
Eupterotidae is a small moth family and not common in Australia. Moths in this family are medium to large in size with board wings. They are furry moths with head and body covered with long hairs. Both female and male have bipectinate antennae. They are active at night. 


wpe6.jpg (24615 bytes)Family Sphingidae - Hawk Moths 
Hawk Moths are large size moths. They have the strong and aerodynamic -shaped body. Their forewings are narrow and long with smaller hind wings. They are very good flyer. When at rest, they hold their wings on body like a tent.

Superfamily NOCTUOIDEA

Family Notodontidae - Processionary Caterpillars
Most Caterpillars of  NOTODONTIDAE will raise their head and/or tail when disturbed. Some of them are hairy but some are smooth with few spines. They are usually colourful and active during the day. 
wpe11.jpg (51603 bytes)wpe15.jpg (36576 bytes)Family Lymantriidae - Tussock Moths
Their Caterpillars are also hairy, often with four distinct tussocks of hair on their back make them look like a toothbrush. Moths in this family are small to medium size with hairy body. They held their board wings like roots over their abdomen at rest.
Moths.57.jpg (32706 bytes)Family Arctiidae - Tiger Moths
Most Caterpillars of the ARCTIIDAE are covered in dense dark hairs. The caterpillars are small to medium size. The adults usually have bright warning colour patterns, which are spotted in red, orange, black or white. Their abdomen usually striped with black and yellow-red colour.
wpe6.jpg (23103 bytes)Family Aganaidae  - Tiger Moths
This family is very closely related with family Arctiidae and sometimes put as its sub-family. 
wpeA.jpg (43675 bytes)wpe2A.jpg (21746 bytes)Family Noctuidae - Armyworms, Semi-Loppers and Owl Moths
Their Caterpillars are usually smooth or with little hairs. They are from small to large size. The adults mainly fly at night. They usually feed on nectar from flowers or ripe fruit. Most are dull in colour, but some have colourful hindwings. 

Other Moths and Others Caterpillars 
There are some Unknown Moths and Unknown Caterpillars that yet to be identified. Please advise if you can identify any of them.

Here we would like to thank Don Herbison-Evans for his kindly advices on the identity of some caterpillars and adults in our web site. His Australian Caterpillars web site is our major reference.

1. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, pp 817.
2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p396.
3. Caterpillars of Australian Moths - Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley, 2007 
4. MOTH FAMILIES - Some Australian Moths from South-East Queensland, Ian McMillan, 2006.
5. Moths of Australia - I. F. B. Common, Melbourne University Press, 1990.
6. Moths of Australia - Bernard D'Abrera, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1974. 

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Last updated: February 09, 2012.