About 1500 species in 150 genera. According to Lemaire and Minet (1999) the family may be divided into five subfamilies: Chionopsychinae, Chondrosteginae, Poecilocampinae, Macromphaliinae and Lasiocampinae. The last one is by far the most diverse.
Nearctic, Palearctic, Oriental, Ethiopian, Neotropical, Australian, Oceanic Island
Geographic Range description:
The family is worldwide distributed although the highest diversity is concentrated on the tropics. Chionopsychinae is represented by a single African genus. The Chondrosteginae present a disjunt distribution between North Africa -reaching Arabian and Iberian Peninsulas- and South Africa. Poecilocampinae are palearctic distributed. Macromphaliinae is restricted to the New World. Finally Lasiocampinae are world wide distributed.
Adult Thorax Morphology
Adult thorax description:
Epiphysis present on males, nearly always absent in females.
Number of tibial spurs foreleg:
Number of tibial spurs midleg:
from 0 to 2
Number of tibial spurs hindleg:
from 0 to 4
One or two apical teeth present on foreleg tibia, sometimes on other legs. Tarsi ventrally with spines.
Forewing with radial distal section approximated to Sc; Rs1 and Rs2 stalked or even entirely fused. Except in Chionopsychinae, Rs4 stalked with M1. Rs3 sometimes free. M2 and M3 stalked or closer than M1 to M2; CuA1 separated from M3 except in Chionopsyche; CuA2 from basal half of discal cell; CuP distally present, sometimes as a fold. Hindwing with humeral area expanded. At least one long humeral vein present. Sc sometimes basally fused with Rs on the discal cell and then again with more distal section of Rs; one cross vein between Sc and Rs sometimes present; discal cell sometimes open; CuA1 free or satlked, CuP absent or present as a fold.
Forewing cell veins:
Forewing anal vein notation:
1A+2A forked or simple
Number of Rs veins in forewing:
from 2 to 4
Number of M veins in forewing:
Hindwing cell vein:
Number of Rs veins in hindwing:
Number of M veins in hindwing:
Wing coupling description:
Adult Head Morphology
porrect, upcurved, large
Number of labial palp segments:
from 2 to 3
Labial palpus modification:
In all genera except Chionopsyche, the basal segment has a distinctive ventral-lateroventral group of setae.
Number of chaetosomata:
Head vertex scaling:
Female pedicel description:
Bipectinate as in the male although with shorter rami
Male pedicel description:
Densely scaled, rami ventrally or lateroventrally directed.
Adult head description:
Head simple, most organs reduced or absent except antennae. Similar in male and female. Heavily scaled. No bristles on the pilifer.
Evolution and Systematics
Highly sensitive antennae of many moths help them detect female sex pheromones thanks to many hairlike olfactory receptors.
"Certain types of moth have an olfactory sensitivity that verges on the supernatural. They can detect a single molecule of the female sex hormone from miles away. Males of the saturniid, bombycid, and lasiocampid families of moth, which include luna, emperor, polyphemus, vaporer, and silk moths, have large, feathery antennae that bear the moths' hairlike olfactory receptors in great quantities (as many as 60,000 in some species). Thanks to their broad shape, the antennae come into contact with the largest possible volume of air, making them perfect scent receivers." (Shuker 2001:28)
"The females of some moths produce an odour that the males can detect with large feathery antennae. So sensitive are these organs and so characteristic and powerful is the scent, that a female has been known to summon a male from eleven kilometres away. At such a distance there must be as little as one molecule of scent in a cubic yard of air, yet it is sufficient to cause the male to fly in pursuit of its source. He needs both antennae to do this. With only one, he cannot establish direction, but with two he can judge on which side the scent is stronger and so fly steadily towards it. A female emperor moth, in a cage in a wood, transmitting a perfume undetectable to our nostrils, has attracted over a hundred huge males from the surrounding countryside within three hours." (Attenborough 1979:96)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:10382
Specimens with Barcodes:9847
Species With Barcodes:1535
Their common name 'snout moths' comes from their unique protruding mouth parts of some species that resemble a large nose. They are called 'lappet moths' due to the decorative skin flaps found on the caterpillar's prolegs. The name 'eggars' comes from the neat egg-shaped cocoons of some species. The name is from the Greek lasio (wooly) and campa (caterpillar).
Caterpillars of this family are large in size and are most often hairy, especially on their sides. Most have skin flaps on their prolegs and a pair of dorsal glands on their abdomens. They feed on leaves of many different trees and shrubs, and often use these same plants to camouflage their cocoons. Some species are called tent caterpillars due to their habit of living together in nests spun of silk.
As adults, the moths in this family are large-bodied with broad wings and may still have the characteristic elongated mouth parts, or have reduced mouthparts and not feed as adults. They are either diurnal or nocturnal. Females lay a large number of eggs which are flat in appearance and either smooth or slightly pitted. In tent caterpillars, the eggs are deposited in masses and covered with a material that hardens in air. Females are generally larger and slower than the males, but the sexes otherwise resemble each other. Moths are typically brown or grey, with hairy legs and bodies.
Subfamily Chionopsychinae (one genus, two species)
Subfamily Chondrosteginae (two genera)
Subfamily Lasiocampinae (130 genera)
- Tribe Gastropachini (previously subfamily Gastropachinae)
- Tribe Lasiocampini
- Tribe Malacosomatini
Subfamily Macromphalinae (15 genera)
- Euglyphis lankesteri
- Larch moth, Tolype laricis
- Tolype dayi
- Velleda lappet moth, or large tolype Tolype velleda
- Titya synoecura
Subfamily Poecilocampinae (two genera)
Genera incertae sedis
See also the list of Lasiocampid genera
- Fitzgerald, Terrence D.1995.The tent caterpillars. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, N.Y.
- L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz. 2003 onwards.British Insects: the Families of Lepidoptera.Version: 17 May 2005.
- Maier, C.T., C.R. Lemmon, J.M. Fengler, D.F. Schweitzer, and R.C. Reardon.2004. Caterpillars on the Foliage of Conifers in the Northeastern United States.. Morgantown, WV: USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team
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