The Batrachedridae are a small family of tiny moths. These are small, slender moths which rest with their wings wrapped tightly around their bodies.

Batrachedra praeangusta.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Infraorder: Heteroneura
Clade: Eulepidoptera
Clade: Ditrysia
Clade: Apoditrysia
Superfamily: Gelechioidea
Family: Batrachedridae
Heinemann & Wocke, 1876
  • Batrachedrinae


The taxonomy of this and related groups is often disputed.

This group was first proposed as a taxonomic rank in 1876 by Hermann von Heinemann and Maximilian Ferdinand Wocke under the name Batrachedrae. Lord Walsingham used the name Batrachedridae in 1890.[1]

Ron Hodges decided to separate a number of new species he was describing in 1966 from Batrachedra in his new genus Chedra, on the basis of the adult males possessing a "single, strong, apical spine on the ampulla" (also known as the harpe). Chedra then accommodated three species: two from North America and one from Chile. Hodges furthermore described two more related genera in this paper: Duospina and Ifeda. These genera he all placed in the family Gelechioidea.[1][2]

In his 1978 treatment of the microlepidoptera of Hawaii, Elwood Zimmerman classified this group as a new subfamily of the family Gelechiidae, which he coined the Momphinae. Zimmerman split five local species from the genus Batrachedra to a new genus Batrachedrodes on the basis of morphology and the particular habit of feeding among sporangia on the underside of fern fronds.[1]

That same year, however, Hodges classified Batrachedra, Chedra, Duospina and Ifeda in the family Batrachedridae in The moths of America north of Mexico.[3][4] Hodges changed the classification in his 1983 Check List of the Lepidoptera of America North of Mexico and included the group as the subfamily Batrachedrinae of the family Coleophoridae.[5][6]

Meanwhile, in Italy, the microlepidopterist Giorgio Baldizzone published an account of the Coleophoridae of Australia in 1996, in which he removed the genus Corythangela from that family to the Batrachedridae sensu Hodges 1978, apparently not having read or not following Hodges 1983 yet, upon examining the genitalia of the two species then known from the territory and finding them more similar to those of other Batrachedridae.[4]

In 1999 Hodges reclassified it again as the family Batrachedridae. He also reclassified the family Epimarptidae as the subfamily Epimarptinae of this family, based on a number of shared synapomorphies. The Batrachedrinae sensu stricto he then reclassified as the subfamily Batrachedrinae. At the time Hodges considered the subfamily Batrachedrinae to include more than 100 species in five genera worldwide.[5][7]

In Japan Yutaka Arita had been investigating a mysterious moth for a number of decades, but had been unable to identify it. He eventually got in touch with Kazuhiro Sugisima, and together with help of others, they were able to identify it and describe it as a new species of Idioglossa in 2000. Upon closer examination of the genitals of it and other species Sugisima transferred the genus, according to the key in Hodges' 1999 reclassification of the group, in the subfamily Batrachedrinae of the family Batrachedridae.[8]

Sjaak J. C. Koster & Sergey Yu. Sinev in the 2003 Microlepidoptera of Europe recognise Hodges' subfamily Batrachedrinae at the rank of family again, but it is unclear where they place Epimarptis (which doesn't occur in Europe, as far as known).[5][9]

In 2004 Lauri Kaila attempted to use cladistics to approximate the phylogeny of the superfamily Gelechioidea, using 193 morphological traits. In this work the family Batrachedridae appeared paraphyletic, because the family Coleophoridae sensu stricto was nested within the Batrachedridae. Kaila used an undescribed species from Australia which mined in the plant Lomandra longifolia, provisionally called "Batrachedra eustola", in his analysis. This taxon specifically helped to cause the Batrachedridae to be paraphyletic. Another problem was encountered with the genus Epimarptis. At the time, the few old specimens which existed in London had never been properly examined, and no one had knowingly collected any species of this genus since, and as such most of the traits used by Kaila were unknown. His paper proposed classifying the traditional family Coleophoridae, along with the subfamilies Batrachedrinae, Stathmopodinae and Coelopoetinae, in a newly circumscribed family Coleophoridae sensu lato. Inclusion of the genus Epimarptis in his analysis showed it belonged within his Coleophoridae sensu lato, but that including it caused a collapse of resolution in the basal clades of this provisional family. Kaila states that he is not formally revising Hodges' classification in this paper, merely suggesting a new classification.[10][11][12]

Later in 2004, Sugisima stated that, after examining the specimens of the new Japanese species of Epimarptis he had just recognised, and new photographs of the specimens in London, and filling out some of the numerous until then unknown morphological characteristics of this obscure genus, it was not possible for him to agree with Kaila's analysis wholeheartedly, because in some characteristics Epimarptis fell outside even Coleophoridae sensu lato. Sugisima also mentions he finds the synapomorphies used by Hodges to define this latter family and its subfamilies in 1999 invalid in light of the further morphological observations made by him and Kaila, finding only one synapomorphy verifiable.[12]

In 2006 Batrachedridae was expanded with another genus, the monotypic Houdinia with the single species Houdinia flexilissima restricted to New Zealand. In the description of this species Hoare et al. state that the new species appears morphologically closest to the new Epimarptis hiranoi of Japan, and because Kaila does not formally revise the taxonomy in his 2004 paper, they are classifying the species according to the taxonomy published by Hodges in 1999.[10]

In Zhi-Qiang Zhang's 2011 attempt to number all the known animal species of earth, van Nieukerken et al., the authors of the section on Lepidoptera, were aware of Hodges' 1999 work but chose to repudiate it, and re-recognised Epimarptidae as a family again. Four species in the genus Epimarptis were counted as belonging to this family. In their taxonomic interpretation, the family Batrachedridae was circumscribed by Heinemann & Wocke in 1876, and comprised 99 species in 10 genera.[13]

Three years later, in 2014, a cladistic analysis by Heikkilä et al. repudiated this interpretation and synonymised Epimarptidae with Batrachedridae again. They furthermore removed the genera Homaledra and Houdinia from the family, and moved both to the Pterolonchidae.[14]


In 1999 Hodges considered the family to have two subfamilies:


These genera have at one point been assigned to the family:

Distribution and diversityEdit

A total of over a hundred species of Batrachedra are found on every continent except Antarctica, including a number of Pacific islands,[15] although there are only three species that occur in Europe.[16] The genus Batrachedrodes, with six species, is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.[1] Six Chedra species have been found, scattered over the USA, Chile,[2] Hawaii[1] and the Philippines.[17] Three species of Epimarptis have been found scattered across the Indian Subcontinent, another was found in Japan.[12] Eight Idioglossa species been found, one to two species on each continent, except five species in Asia, and none in Europe, South America and Antarctica.[18][19]

North America contains at least six genera.[7][12]

Australia contains three genera, two species of Corythangela and twenty-nine of Batrachedra, as well as a number of undescribed species[10][20] and one species of Idioglossa.[18][19][21]

The Hawaiian Islands contain two genera with eight species, six of Batrachedrodes, and two of Chedra.[1]

Europe only has three species of Batrachedra.[16][22]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Zimmerman, Elwood C. (1978). Insects of Hawaii (PDF). Vol. 9 Microlepidoptera. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii. pp. 1003–1028.
  2. ^ a b Hodges, Ronald W. (December 1966). "Review of New World Species of Batrachedra, with Description of Three New Genera (Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea)". Transactions of the American Entomological Society. 92 (4): 585–651. JSTOR 25077925.
  3. ^ Hodges, Ronald W. (1978). "Gelechioidea, Cosmopterigidae". In Dominick, R. B. (ed.). The moths of America north of Mexico. Vol. 6. London: E. W. Classey & Wedge Entomological Research Fdn. ISBN 9780860960010.
  4. ^ a b c Baldizzone, Giorgio (18 December 1996). "A taxonomic review of the Coleophoridae (Lepidoptera) of Australia". Tijdschrift voor Entomologie. 139: 98–100. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Brown, Richard L. (19 August 2015). "Batrachedridae Overview". Gelechioidea - a Global Framework. Mississippi State University. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  6. ^ Savela, Markku (1 February 2015). "Chedra". Lepidoptera and some other life forms. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Hodges, Ronald W. (1999). "The Gelechioidea". In Kristensen, N.P. (ed.). Handbuch der Zoologie/Handbook of Zoology Vol. 4, part 35. Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies Vol. 1. Evolution, Systematics and Biogeography. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 131–158. ISBN 9783110157048.
  8. ^ a b Sugisima, Kazuhiro; Arita, Yutaka (2000). "A new species of a gelechioid genus, Idioglossa Walsingham (Lepidoptera, Batrachedridae, Batrachedrinae), from Japan". Lepidoptera Science. 51 (4): 319–336. doi:10.18984/lepid.51.4_319. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  9. ^ Koster, Sjaak J.C.; Sinev, S.Yu. (2003). "Momphidae, Batrachedridae, Stathmopodidae, Agonoxenidae, Cosmopterigidae, Chrysopeleiidae". In Huemer, P.; Karsholt, O.; Lyneborg, L. (eds.). Microlepidoptera of Europe. Vol. 5. Stenstrup: Apollo Books.
  10. ^ a b c d Hoare, Robert; Dugdale, John; Watts, Corinne (2006-11-02). "The world's thinnest caterpillar? A new genus and species of Batrachedridae (Lepidoptera) from Sporadanthus ferrugineus (Restionaceae), a threatened New Zealand plant". Invertebrate Systematics. 20 (5): 571–583. doi:10.1071/is06009. ISSN 1447-2600 – via Researchgate.
  11. ^ Kaila, Lauri (September 2004). "Phylogeny of the superfamily Gelechioidea (Lepidoptera: Ditrysia): an exemplar approach". Cladistics. 20 (4): 303–340. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2004.00027.x. S2CID 86113904.
  12. ^ a b c d Sugisima, Kazuhiro (2004). "Discovery of the genus Epimarptis Meyrick, 1914 (Gelechioidea: Coleophoridae s. l.) in Japan, with the description of a new species". Nota Lepidopterologica. 27 ((2/3)): 199–216. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  13. ^ van Nieukerken, Erik J., Kaila, Lauri, Kitching, Ian J., Kristensen, Niels P., Lees, David C., Minet, Joël, Mitter, Charles, Mutanen, Marko, Regier, Jerome C., Simonsen, Thomas J., Wahlberg, Niklas, Yen, Shen-Horn, Zahiri, Reza, Adamski, David, Baixeras, Joaquin, Bartsch, Daniel, Bengtsson, Bengt Å., Brown, John W., Bucheli, Sibyl Rae, Davis, Donald R., de Prins, Jurate, de Prins, Willy, Epstein, Marc E., Gentili-Poole, Patricia, Gielis, Cees, Hättenschwiler, Peter, Hausmann, Axel, Holloway, Jeremy D., Kallies, Axel, Karsholt, Ole, Kawahara, Akito Y., Koster, Sjaak (J.C.), Kozlov, Mikhail V., Lafontaine, J. Donald, Lamas, Gerardo, Landry, Jean-François, Lee, Sangmi, Nuss, Matthias, Park, Kyu-Tek, Penz, Carla, Rota, Jadranka, Schintlmeister, Alexander, Schmidt, B. Christian, Sohn, Jae-Cheon, Alma Solis, M., Tarmann, Gerhard M., Warren, Andrew D., Weller, Susan, Yaklovlev, Roman V., Zolotuhin, Vadim V. & Zwick, Andreas (2011). "Order Lepidoptera Linnaeus, 1758" (PDF). In Zhang, Zhi-Qiang (ed.). Animal biodiversity: an outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness. Zootaxa. Vol. 3148. pp. 212–221. ISBN 978-1-86977-850-7. Retrieved 17 December 2019.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  14. ^ a b c Heikkilä, Maria; Mutanen, Marko; Kekkonen, Mari; Kaila, Lauri (November 2014). "Morphology reinforces proposed molecular phylogenetic affinities: a revised classification for Gelechioidea (Lepidoptera)". Cladistics. 30 (6): 563–589. doi:10.1111/cla.12064. S2CID 84696495. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  15. ^ Savela, Markku (30 December 2018). "Batrachedra". Lepidoptera and some other life forms. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Batrachedra Herrich-Schäffer, 1853". Fauna Europaea. Fauna Europaea Secretariat, Museum für Naturkunde Leibniz & Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  17. ^ Mey, W. & Ceniza, M.J.C, 1993: Chedra fimbristyli n. sp. ein minierender Kleinschmetterling an Fimbrystylis ssp (Cyperaceae) auf Leyte, Philippinen (Lepidoptera: Batrachedridae). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift N.F. 40(1): 181-186. Abstract: doi:10.1002/mmnd.19930400109
  18. ^ a b Savela, Markku (9 November 2018). "Idioglossa". Lepidoptera and some other life forms. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Genus Idioglossa Walsingham, 1881". Australian Faunal Directory. Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  20. ^ Su, You Ning (7 March 2012). "Names List for BATRACHEDRIDAE". Australian Faunal Directory. Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  21. ^ Jefferis Turner, Alfred (1917). "Lepidopterological Gleanings". Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland. 29: 84. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Batrachedridae Heinemann & Wocke, 1876". Fauna Europaea. Fauna Europaea Secretariat, Museum für Naturkunde Leibniz & Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung. Retrieved 22 December 2019.

External linksEdit

  • Microleps U.S.A. (Neartic)