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

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Very few adults of Agathiphaga have been collected; the moths are nocturnal, come to light and superficially resemble caddis-flies. Little is known about the life history: the eggs are thought to be laid beneath the scales of Agathis cones; the larva excavates practically all of the inside of the seed; when feeding is completed it lines its cell with a very resistant, inner layer and an outer layer of compressed frass; pupation sometimes is delayed for four years. The pupa has extremely large mandibles with which the pharate adult grinds a circular exit hole in the cell prior to ecdysis. Although the larvae sometimes occur commonly, few adults have been reared. [Common 1973; Robinson and Tuck 1976; Kristensen and Nielsen 1983; Kristensen 1984b, d.]


Kauri moths are  small; head elongate and flattened, with hair-scales; anterior tentorial arms Y-shaped; ocelli and chaetosemata absent; antennae filiform, with numerous sensilla coeloconica on base of each flagellar segment and scales in 2 annuli per flagellomere; infrabuccal pouch without a 'triturating basket'; mandibles large, with powerful musculature and devoid of cusps; maxilla with lacinia present; galea a prominent elongate lobe with concave inner surface; maxillary palps 5-segmented, folded; labial palps 3-segmented; fore tibial epiphysis present; tibial spurs 1-4-4; fore wing with prominent jugum, Sc forked but Sc 1 weak, R 2 and R 3 forked, R 4 and R 5 forked, sometimes with cross-veins Sc 2 -R 1 and R 3 -R 4+5 , R 1 to apex or termen; M stem present or vestigial in cell, 3 or 4 M veins present, CuP weak with cross-veins M-CuP and CuP-A, A veins confluent distally; hind wing as fore wing but A fork short; cuticle weakly melanised; male with only paired S5 gland processes, gland a long, twisted tube; male with long, slender valvae; female with extensible, non-piercing ovipositor, both tergum and S8 with apophyses, posterior apophyses fused posteriorly. Larva hypognathous, apodous, stout, without adfrontal ridges and distinct ecdysial lines, with 2 pairs of vestigal stemmata, 1-segmented antennae, and salivary orifice not on spinneret (Kristensen 1984b). Pupa with huge asymmetrical mandibles and free appendages; in an oval cell within seed of Agathis .


The family comprises only a single genus, Agathiphaga , with two species, A. queenslandensis , in eastern Qld, and A. vitiensis in the south-west Pacific. Larvae of Agathiphaga queenslandensis live within the seed capsules of kauri pines ( Agathis australis ). A. vitiensis also feeds on Agathis seeds (namely A. robusta ) (Kristensen 1984).