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Diagnosis is difficult because the subfamily has not been surveyed globally and may be polyphyletic. Size usually small (wingspan 1.5 - 2 cm), but very large in some Australian species. Wing pattern either brownish with simple transverse lines, or whitish with complex calico coloration and sharply defined lines (Trichophysetis group). Palpi porrect with apical meron downturned or porrect. Antennae relatively thick. Chaetosema absent, but scale tuft present behind ocellus. Forewing Rs2+3 variously free or stalked with Rs1 and/or Rs4. Forewing Rs4+M1 stalked in Styphlolepis and Thyridiphora, males of the latter with a fovea between those veins and M2. Base of hindwing cubital vein without row of hairs.