The Tineodidae or false plume moths[1] are a family of moths with in some cases unusually modified wings: Like in some related moths, the wings of several Tineodidae are decomposed into several rigid spines. This is a small family, with about a global total of 20 species described to date; some undescribed species are known or suspected to exist however. They seem to be of Australian origin, where they are most diverse, but range through the Wallacea to Southeast and South Asia, and into the Pacific to the Marquesas Islands.[2]

False plume moths
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Infraorder: Heteroneura
Clade: Eulepidoptera
Clade: Ditrysia
Clade: Apoditrysia
Superfamily: Alucitoidea
Family: Tineodidae
Meyrick, 1885
12 genera, about 20 species

Oxychirotidae Meyrick, 1885

Description and ecology


These moths are usually small (with wingspans around 1–2 cm/less than 1 inch) and brownish in color. They have large compound eyes, thread-like antennae, and prominent labial palps. The body is slender, and the legs bear large spines.. The amount of wing modification varies in this family. Some genera (e.g. Cenoloba, Oxychirota and Tanycnema) resemble plume moths (superfamily Pterophoroidea), hence the common name "false plume moths". Others have little- or almost unmodified wings, and in some cases (e.g. Tineodes) at a casual glance look like snout moths (family Pyralidae). The forewings may be simply drawn out to a slim point, or deeply divided into two narrow lobes. The hindwings are typically quite short, and may also be divided into two lobes.[3]

Feeding habits of the caterpillar larvae are not well known; while they all seem to feed on eudicots, there is no obvious preference for a particular lineage of these. Most Tineodidae larvae seem to be leaf miners as in closely related moth families. Those of Cenoloba obliteralis (and perhaps others) inhabit developing fruit instead, where they eat the young seeds.[3]

Systematics and taxonomy


The relationships of this group are disputed, and they were in fact not even considered a possibly monophyletic lineage for long. Initially, these moths were believed to be unusual Pyralidae (snout moths) or Pterophoroidea (plume moths). Only in the late 19th century was their distinctness realized, yet they were not considered as a monophyletic group. Rather, the more unusual forms were treated as a distinct family Oxychirotidae. This was subsequently merged into the Tineodidae – which was originally established for the more conventional-looking false plume moths – when it became clear that the two groups are very close relatives.[3]

Tineodidae are here united with the many-plumed moths (family Alucitidae) the superfamily Alucitoidea. It may be that these two groups are actually polyphyletic with regard to each other, and merging Tineodidae into Alucitidae and/or redelimiting the groups is warranted. In the taxonomic scheme used here, the closest living relatives of the Alucitoidea are considered the Pterophoroidea, but this is somewhat disputed. This would mean that the strong similarities between e.g. Tanycnema and the basal plume moth genus Agdistopis are not a coincidence.[4]

The alternative approach assumes the fruitworm moths (Copromorphoidea) are the closest living relatives of the Alucitidae, including the latter in an expanded Copromorphoidea with the fruitworm moths and the fringe-tufted moths (family Epermeniidae). In this scheme, the Alucitoidea do not exist, and the Tineodidae are included in the Pterophoroidea. Ultimately however, it is the affiliations of the Copromorphidae (which seem to be basal Obtectomera, somewhat more advanced than the others) which would decide which scheme to use.[5]



The genera presently placed here, sorted alphabetically, are:[6]

  • Anomima Turner, 1922
  • Carcantia Walker, 1859
  • Cenoloba Walsingham, 1885
  • Epharpastis Meyrick, 1887
  • Euthesaura Turner, 1922
  • Euthrausta Turner, 1922
  • Neoxychirota Clarke, 1986
  • Oxychirota Meyrick, 1885
  • Palaeodes Hampson, 1913
  • Tanycnema Turner, 1922
  • Tephroniopsis Amsel, 1961
  • Tineodes Guenée in Boisduval & Guenée, 1854


  1. ^ ToL (2003)
  2. ^ Clarke (1986), Herbison-Evans & Crossley (2010), ABRS (2011)
  3. ^ a b c ABRS (2011)
  4. ^ Minet (1991), ABRS (2011)
  5. ^ Minet (1991)
  6. ^ Wikispecies (2010)


  •   Data related to Alucitidae at Wikispecies. Version of 2008-MAR-06.
  • Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) (2011): Australian Faunal Directory – Tineodidae. Version of 2011-MAY-11. Retrieved 2011-SEP-24.
  • Clarke, John Frederick Gates (1986): Pyralidae and Microlepidoptera of the Marquesas Archipelago. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 416: 1–485. PDF fulltext (214 MB!)
  • Herbison-Evans, Don & Crossley, Stella (2010): Tineodidae of Australia. Version of 2010-MAY-11. Retrieved 2011-SEP-24.
  • Minet, Joel (1991): Tentative reconstruction of the ditrysian phylogeny (Lepidoptera: Glossata). Entomologica Scandinavica 22(1): 69–95. doi:10.1163/187631291X00327 (HTML abstract)
  • Tree of Life Web Project (ToL) (2003): Alucitoidea. Version of 2003-JAN-01. Retrieved 2011-SEP-24.