Systematic and taxonomic history
Determining the monophyly of the family based on adult morphology is difficult due to a broad range of morphological variation. One important synapomorphy for Psychidae, the presence of fused metathoracic furcal bridges, is shared with the sister group Arrhenophanidae. The female psychid has evolved a greater array of morphological specializations, especially involving appendage reductions, than any other Lepidoptera family. Assessing the family relationships of psychid species with fully winged females was a consistent problem for early lepidopterists, who often proposed such taxa in Tineidae or Yponomeutoidea (Davis, 1998). Consequently, previous attempts to classify the family have varied from the recognition of as many as 10 families (Tutt 1990)to as few as two subfamilies (Kozhanchikov 1956), or a superficial division in two paraphyletic families: Micropsychidae (= Micropsychiniidae Gomez Bustillo, 1984) to include ??tineid-like?? forms; and the ??true?? Psychidae, or ??bombyx-like?? forms (Gomez Bustillo, 1979). Adults are small to medium size moths, with forewings ranging from 4 to 28 mm in length. Males are always fully winged; the females are either fully winged, brachypterous, apterous, or vermiform (with all body appendages vestigial or lost). The larvae construct portable cases, as do genera in at least 10 other families of Lepidoptera. The morphology of the larval stage is more conservative and exhibits features diagnostic for the family.
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