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

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The adults often fly around their host plants during the day, come to light at night and are often seen running rapidly over leaves of the host plant. The larva tunnels direct from the egg into the leaf, forming a slender, tortuous mine, which later expands gradually or abruptly into a blotch mine. The form of the mine and the host plant are often characteristic of the species. At maturity the larva normally leaves the mine and spins an oval cocoon of silk on the ground; pupa.


Head with erect hair-scales and characteristic 'collar' on back of head of either lamellar or piliform scales; antennae with highly specialised, paired sensilla vesiculoclada (van Nieukerken and Dop 1987); fore wing with M and R coalescent except terminally, R one-branched, M one- or two-branched; wings of males often with specialised scales on underside of fore wing and both sides of hind wing. Egg oval, flattened, convex. Larva without segmented thoracic legs or crochets; pseudolegs ('calli') often present on meso- and metathorax and on first 7 abdominal segments; head with a single stemma on each side; abdominal segment 10 with pair of internal sclerotised rods. Pupa with appendages not glued to body, 3 pairs of coxae visible, abdominal segments 2-7 movable; T2-8 with numerous spines.


Only 16 species of Nepticulidae have been described from Australia. They are, however, numerous and the fauna may well exceed 300 species. Most Australian species are black, but some are brown or grey, or have a transverse, silvery fascia typical of many species in the northern hemisphere. The family has been intensively studied in many parts of the world (van Nieukerken 1986).

  • Nepticulid (micro moth)