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

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Oecophoridae

Overview

The family has reached a remarkable degree of development in Australia, especially in the Oecophorinae and Xyloryctinae. In most Australian species of Oecophorinae Rs and M 1 of the hind wing are nearly parallel, the abdominal terga are densely spinose, and the male usually has a beak-like gnathos. The larval habits are diverse, but many feed on dead Eucalyptus leaves on the forest floor. Some species of Garrha (53 spp.) cut oval, flattened cases from fallen leaves; other genera, such as Thema (42 spp.), join dead leaves on the ground or in tree crevices. G . carnea and T . chlorochyta are good examples. Living Eucalyptus leaves provide food for many species, some of which construct portable cases, and others spin shelters between adjacent leaves or live in tubular shelters among the twigs. Chrysonoma fascialis forms a flat case of two fragments of leaf, usually on juvenile foliage near the ground. A short length of hollowed-out twig is used as a portable case by Hippomacha callista , the open end being blocked by the modified head capsule of the larva. In Aristeis hepialella the case resembles a snail shell, made from a series of successively larger, spirally arranged, overlapping fragments of eucalypt leaf. Some species, such as Heliocausta hemiteles live gregariously in silken tubes spun in a bunch of tied leaves. Wingia rectioella  spins a solitary silken shelter on Leptospermum .

Few native Oecophorinae are known to be pests, but Philobota productella and related species damage grass pastures in the south-east. The larvae form short vertical tunnels in the soil, emerging to feed on grass. Barea consignatella and related species sometimes damage sapwood in damp structural timbers; in Tas. Barea species often are important decomposers of litter in temperate rainforest. Introduced stored-product pests include Hofmannophila pseudospretella and Endrosis sarcitrella .

Description

Very small to medium-sized; head  usually smooth-scaled; ocelli rarely present; antennae simple, ciliate or pectinate, scape often with pecten in Oecophorinae; proboscis rarely short or vestigial; maxillary palps 3- or 4-segmented, folded over base of proboscis or rarely reduced to 2 segments; labial palps recurved, often exceeding vertex, apical segment usually slender, tapering, acute; epiphysis present, hind tibiae with long piliform scales; fore wing varying from lanceolate to broad, without pterostigma, R 4 and R 5 usually stalked, never more than one vein lost, CuP present at least towards margin; hind wing with Sc and Rs usually well separated, R 1 often present, sometimes (Stenomatinae) Sc+R 1 approaches cell towards upper angle. Rs and M 1 well separated at base, parallel or slightly divergent (Oecophorinae), connate or stalked (Stathmopodinae, Autostichinae, Xyloryctinae, Stenomatinae), M 2 usually arising nearer to M 3 than to M 1 , CuP present in outer half; female sometimes brachypterous; frenulum in female with 3, rarely 2, bristles; S2 with reduced apodemes and distinct rods, abdomen often with dorsal spines; male genitalia various, gnathos never with a spinose knob. Larva with crochets in uniordinal or biordinal circle, ellipse or penellipse, rarely triordinal; tunnelling in wood, stems, branches or in flowers or galls, joining leaves, among detritus, or in tunnels in soil; some form portable cases and a few are leaf-miners. Pupa usually with large maxillary palps, abdominal segments 5-7 in male, 5-6 in female movable; in larval shelter.

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