Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


  • Spilomelinae.
  • Wurthiinae.



Shaffer in Nielsen et al. (1996) included Spilomelini as a tribe in the Pyraustinae and recognised Wurthiinae in the Australian fauna, represented in Australia by the single described species Niphopyralis chionesis Hampson, 1919, although at least 5 undescribed species are known. The world fauna consists of 8 described species, with 15 undescribed species known from Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The subfamily Wurthiinae was decribed by Roepke in 1916 for the genus Wurthia Roepke, established as a subfamily of the Arctiidae. In 1923, Kemner transferred the group to the Schoenobiinae. The genus Niphopyralis Hampson, 1893 was established in the Schoenobiinae, where it was retained by Munroe (1958) though Lewvanich (1981) transferred Niphopyralis to ther Pyraustinae. Both Munroe (1958) and Lewvanich (1981), however, failed to note the genus Wurthia. Niphopyralis was listed by Fletcher & Nye (1984) in the Pyraustinae, whereas Wurthia was was listed in the Schoenobinae. M. Shaffer (unpublished) considered Niphopyralis Hampson, 1893 and Wurthia Roepke, 1916 as congeneric and distinct from the Schoenobiinae. The subfamily Wurthiinae was reestablished and this was followed by Common (1990) and again by Robinson, Tuck & Shaffer (1990). However, the molecular study by Regier et al. (2012) demonstrated that the "Worthiinae" are nested within the Spilomelinae, and that arrangement is now recognised here.

Biological information is available for two species from Java, Niphopyralis myrmecophila (Roepke, 1916) which is associated with the arboreal nests of the tree ant Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius), and Niphopyralis aurivillii (Kemner, 1923), which lives in the arboreal nests of the ant Polyrhachis bicolor Smith. In both cases the Niphopyralis larvae feed on larvae and pupae of the ants. The biologies of the Australian species are unknown.

Niphopyralis is easily confused with small white Limacodidae, which are similar in wing-shape, body-shape and coloration. The "Wurthiinae" taxa, however, are characterised by the presence of tympanal organs, and a hindwing venation where the Sc+R arises from Rs distally to the cell. The moths lack a proboscis, which, combined with whitish appearance, is probably why they were associated with the Schoenobiinae. Ocelli and chaetosmata are also absent. The antennae are bipectinate in the males and filiform in the females. A dense scale tuft on the scape overhangs the eye, which, together with a high, rounded thorax, gives the head a sunken appearance.


Excluded Taxa

Other Excluded

CRAMBIDAE: Sagariphora Meyrick, 1894 [removed from synonymy with Agrotera by Chen et al. (2017), type species Sagariphora heliochlaena Meyrick, 1894, non-Australian genus] — Chen, K., Horak, M., Du, X. & Zhang, D. 2017. Revision of the Australian species of Agrotera Schrank (Lepidoptera: Pyraloidea: Crambidae: Spilomelinae). Zootaxa 4362(2): 213–224


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)
23-Apr-2018 CRAMBIDAE 27-Aug-2020 MODIFIED
27-Sep-2012 27-Sep-2012 MOVED
24-Jan-2012 24-Jan-2012 MOVED
03-Oct-2012 16-Nov-2010 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)