What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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The family is one of the largest among the Lepidoptera with about 25 000 known species all of which possess a postspiracular hood (Kitching 1984).

The family is divided into 20 subfamilies of which the Pantheinae are not known from Australia. The subfamilies are frequently divided into two dubious groups, trifinae (Amphypyrinae-Heliothinae) and quadrifinae (Rivulinae-Plusiinae), based on the obsolescence or presence respectively of M 2 in the hind wing. Perhaps more informative, the male valvae of the trifine noctuids and Stictopterinae plus Plusiinae, the 'higher noctuids', usually have a clavus (a process from the dorsal margin of the sacculus) and many trifine males have paired hair-pencils at the base of the abdomen.


Small to large; ocelli usually present; antennae pectinate, dentate or simple; proboscis usually strong; maxillary palps 1-segmented; labial palps porrect or ascending; epiphysis present, tibial spurs 0-2-4, tibiae and tarsi sometimes spined; fore wing usually with areole, 1A+2A forming basal fork; hind wing with Sc+R 1 shortly fused with Rs near base, rarely fused to about one-half of cell, M 2 weak and arising nearer to M 1 than to M 3 (trifid), or strong and arising nearer to M 3 than to M 1 (quadrifid); abdomen with counter-tympanal hood postspiracular. Egg usually domed, with vertical ribs, laid singly or in clusters. Larva usually without secondary setae, rarely with dense secondary setae on verrucae, crochets uniordinal, rarely biordinal, not abruptly shorter at ends of mesoseries; mostly phytophagous, sometimes stem boring, or predacious on Coccidae (HEMI). Pupa in cell in soil, or in silken cocoon not incorporating larval hairs.

Noctuidae images on Australian Moths Online

  • Agrotis infusa ( Bogong moth)

  • Apino callisto

  • Donuca lanipes

  • Pupa of Eodocima fullonia

  • Larva of Eudocima sp

  • Helicoverpa punctigera

  • Sasunaga leucorina