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

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Adults are diurnal and fly in filtered sunshine in damp forest localities; females (and sometimes males) come to light. Adults feed on pollen and spores and may aggregate at food sources. In New Zealand the larvae of Sabatinca feed on liverworts and one type believed to represent the 'Australian group' has been taken from within rotten logs in Qld; other exotic species feed on the lower leaves of grasses and other herbaceous plants. They pupate in a tough, silken, oval cocoon in the soil or detritus. The moths fly during early spring and early summer (Aug.-Sept. in Qld). [Carter and Dugdale 1982; Kristensen 1984c; Kristensen and Nielsen 1979, 1982.]

Larvae of the single Australian zeuglopteran family Micropterigidae (genus Sabatinca ) apparently occur within mosses, liverworts, rotting logs, or low foliage in rainforest (Stehr 1987, Nielsen and Common 1991).


Small; head with raised hair-scales; ocelli present; chaetosemata absent; antennae moniliform, submoniliform or filiform, flagellar segments with multibranched sensilla ('ascoids'); labrum centrally unsclerotised; epipharynx with asymmetrical armature; maxillary palps 5-segmented; labial palps short, 2- or 3-segmented; fore tibial epiphysis present or absent; tibial spurs 0-0-4; fore wing  with small jugum, humeral vein vestigil, Sc forked, Sc2-R1 cross-vein sometimes present; chorda present, R1 sometimes forked, cross-veins CuA-CuP and CuP-2A often present; hind wing as fore wing or with Sc2 fused with R1, Sc and R1 confluent in 'Australian group' taxa, A often simple; abdomen with or without S5 gland; male S8 more or less unsclerotised; ovipositor lobes retractile, non-piercing, segments 8 and 9 without apophyses. Eggs with specialised chorion structure (Chauvin and Chauvin 1980).

Larva slug-like, prognathous, with 6 or 5 stemmata; antenna 3-segmented; without adfrontal ridges and ecdysial lines; salivary orifice not on spinneret; body hexagonal in cross-section; chaetotaxy reduced, with hair-like to claviform setae; thoracic legs 3- or 4-segmented, with apical claw; non-muscular prolegs devoid of crochets often on first 8 abdominal segments; some species with plastron. Pupa with pointed mandibles, used for opening the cocoon, and free appendages. Micropterigid larvae are easily distinguished from other Lepidoptera by their long antennae, slug-like morphology, and the absence of adfrontal areas.


The nine Australian species of Micropterigidae all occur in rainforest in eastern Australia and Tas.. They are currently placed in Sabatinca s.lat., but were divided into two groups by Gibbs (1983). S. porphyrodes is restricted to the Ravenshoe area in North Qld; the remaining species belong to the 'Australian group' and include S. sterops, a tiny golden species from North Qld, and several, such as S. calliplaca, which are very similar, deep purplish and with whitish transverse bands across the fore wings.

Micropterigidae images on Australian Moths Online

  • Sabatinca sp. (peacock colored micro moth)