Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

28 June 2007 - E.D. (Ted) Edwards, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australia



Australia has a rich fauna of ghost moths, which are by far the most successful homoneurous moths in terms of species diversity, there being over 500 species in about 80 genera worldwide. While the monophyly of the bulk of the family, the Hepialidae s. str., is well demonstrated, the relationship of the genera Fraus Walker (from Australia), Gazoryctra Hübner (Holarctic) and Afrotheora Nielsen & Scoble and Antihepialius Janse (Afrotropical) remains uncertain and these genera are usually referred to as informal 'primitive Hepialidae' (Nielsen & Scoble 1986; Nielsen & Kristensen 1989).

Regier et al. (2015) synonymised Anomosetidae and Palaeosetidae with Hepialidae.

The first Australian species were named by Lewin (1805) and Donovan (1805) and a number of species were named by Herrich-Schäffer (1850-[1869]). Meyrick (1890c) produced the first revision of the Australian fauna, Wagner and Pfitzner (1911) reviewed the family for Lepidopterorum Catalogus and Pfitzner & Gaede (1933) treated the Australian fauna in Zeitz's Macrolepidoptera of the World. Unlike most other Australian moth families nearly all the hepialid genera have been subject to taxonomic study over the last 65 years. Tindale (1932, 1941a) revised Trictena Meyrick, Bordaia Tindale and Abantiades Herrich-Schäffer. The genus Oncopera Walker was revised by Tindale (1933) and subsequently reviewed by Common (1966) and Elder (1970). Elhamma Walker, Jeana Tindale and Oxycanus Walker, the most species-rich genus in Australia, were revised by Tindale (1935), with additions to Oxycanus by Tindale (1955). The 'primitive' hepialid genus, Fraus, was comprehensively revised by Nielsen & Kristensen (1989). Simonsen (2018) reviewed the Abantiades,Oncopera, Aenetus, Archaeoaenetus and Zelotypia, describing one new genus and 15 new species along with other nomenclatural changes.

Nine genera and 142 species are currently described for the Australian fauna.


General References

Donovan, E. 1805. An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite, and other Islands in the Indian, Southern, and Pacific Oceans: including Figures and Descriptions of One Hundred and Fifty-three Species of the more Splendid, Beautiful, and Interesting Insects, hitherto Discovered in those Countries, and which for the most Part have not appeared in the Works of any Preceding Author. London : Rivington iv + [167] pp. + [41] pls. [Date published January]

Nielsen, E.S., Robinson, G.S. & Wagner, D.L. 2000. Ghost-moths of the world: a global inventory and bibliography of the Exoporia (Mnesarchaeoidea and Hepialoidea) (Lepidoptera). Journal of Natural History 34(823–878)

Nielsen, E.S. & Kristensen, N.P. 1989. Primitive Ghost Moths. Morphology and taxonomy of the Australian genus Fraus Walker (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera 1: i-xiii, 1-206

Regier, J.C., Mitter, C., Kristensen, N.P., Davis, D.R., van Nieukerken, E.J., Rota, J., Simonsen, T.J., Mitter, K.T., Kawahara, A.Y., Yen, S.-H., Cummings, M.P. & Zwick, A. 2015. A molecular phylogeny for the oldest (nonditrysian) lineages of extant Lepidoptera, with implications for classification, comparative morphology and life-history evolution. Systematic Entomology 40(4): 671–704 [Date published online 28 May 2015]

Simonsen, T.J. 2018. Splendid ghost moths and their allies in Australia : A Revision of Australian Abantiades, Oncopera, Aenetus, Archaeoaenetus and Zelotypia (Hepialidae). Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Clayton South, Victoria, Australia : CSIRO Publishing Vol. 12 312 pp. [Date published 1/3/2018]

Tindale, N.B. 1941. Revision of the ghost moths (Lepidoptera, Homoneura, Family Hepialidae). Part IV. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 7(1): 15-46, pls 5-7, text-figs 1-51


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
04-Aug-2021 HEPIALIDAE 08-Jun-2021 MODIFIED
26-Jun-2017 17-Nov-2015 MOVED
12-May-2015 HEPIALIDAE 17-Nov-2015 MODIFIED
19-Feb-2015 HEPIALIDAE 18-Feb-2015 REVIEWED Dr Federica Turco
12-Feb-2010 (import)