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

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Adult plume moths fly weakly and are usually found in the vicinity of their host plants; they come to light but can readily be disturbed during the day. They rest raised on the long fore and mid legs with the body horizontal and wings outspread.

The family is usually divided into three subfamilies all of which are represented in Australia. However, Wasserthal (1970) recognised 4 subfamilies; his Ochyroticinae occur in New guinea but are absent from Australia.

Agdistinae have undivided fore and hind wings. Ochyrotica kurandica is knpown from North Qld only. Agdistopis halieutica occurs in the N.T. and Qld; larvae feed on fruit of Secamone .

Platyptilinae have 3 veins in the second lobe of the hind wing and 1 vein in the third (Fig. 41.59a); the cilia are usually mixed with dark scales. Species of Cosmoclostis are particularly handsome, with silvery abdominal blotches and white and red-brown fore wings; 2 species occur in eastern Australia. Stangeia xerodes , which occurs widely in Australia, has larvae feeding on Acacia foliage. Stenoptilia zophodactylus occurs from Europe through Asia to Australia and New Zealand; its larvae feed on flowers of Gentianella . Platyptilia omissalis occurs widely in southern Australia and has larvae which first mine and later feed exposed on leaves of Parahebe perfoliata .
Pterophorinae have 2 veins in both the second and third lobes of the hind wing, and the cilia are not mixed with scales. The pale larvae of the white Pterophorus aptalis feed in the underside of the leaves of Astrotricha .


Small; head usually smooth-scaled; ocelli and chaetosemata absent; antennae filiform; proboscis, unscaled; maxillary palps minute, 1-segmented; labial palps slender or stout, porrect or upturned; legs long, slender; epiphysis present; spurs 0-2-4, prominent; hind tibiae sometimes with specialised scaling; fore wing divided by terminal clefts into 2 or 3 plumes, rarely 4 plumes, or entire; with complex wing-folding mechanism (Wasserthal 1974), pterostigma sometimes present, wing-locking microtrichia absent, chorda and M absent in cell, one branch of R often absent, M 1 and M 2 weak or absent, CuP usually present, 1A + 2A without fork; hind wing deeply cleft into 3 plumes, rarely entire, underside with double series of specialised scales along M 3 and CuA 2 or CuA 1 , CuP absent, female frenulum of 1 or 2 bristles; abdomen long and slender, tympanal organs absent. Eggs of flat type, oval, smooth. Larva usually with numerous secondary, often modified setae, sometimes on verrucae, prothorax with 3 L setae, ventral prolegs long, crochets uniordinal in mesoseries or mesal penellipse; larvae usually leaf-mining at first, later exposed eroding surface of leaves or burrowing in flower buds or in stems. Pupa slender smooth or spined, often with numerous setae on head, thorax and abdomen, pilifers present; fully exposed, attached by hooked setae on underside of abdominal segments 9 and 10.

  • Megalorhipida leucodactyla

  • Xyroptila sp.