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The Uraniidae include about 700 described species in about 90 genera (Minet and Scoble 1999). The most striking characters supporting the monophyly of this family involve the paired tympanal organs ("ears) found at the base of the abdomen, which in uraniids are sexually dimorphic (Scoble 1982; Holloway Moths of Borneo). In the female, the "ears" are located ventrally on the first abdominal segment and open ventrally, similar to the condition in Geometridae. In the male, on the other hand, the "ears" are found at the junction of the second and third abdominal segments and open to dorsally or laterally, a condition unique in Lepidoptera.
Following Minet (1995), four subfamilies are recognized, as follows (Minet and Scoble 1998):
Epipleminae, which include more than 550 described species, mainly tropical but very widely distributed, absent only from New Zealand and North Africa.The adults are generally small (wingspan 2 cm or less) and nocturnal. They have varying, often distinctive resting postures; in many species, for example, the hindwings are folded along or over the abdomen, while the forewings are extended horizontally, leaving a pronounced gap between the two pairs of wings. Both hindwing and forewing are often deeply incised, and the rear margin of the hindwing often bears "teeth" or short tails. Both features are well illustrated in images of live adults at jpmoth.org.
Microniinae, which include about 50 species in less than 10 genera, limited to tropical Africa, Madagascar, Indo-Australia and palaearctic Asia.Microniine adults are delicate white moths with dark stripes and look much like geometrids, resting with wings appressed to the substrate. See images of live adults at jpmoth.org.
Uraniinae, which include about 50 described species in 8 genera, found in both the Old World and New World tropics. In addition to several microniine-like genera, the subfamily includes some spectacular large moths, among which are three closely-related genera of brilliantly-marked, day-flying, migratory species. One such species is the Madagascar sunset moth.