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Pests > Pest Management > Quarantine > Interceptions > Insects & Spiders > Pyralid moths, herbal medicines, Australia

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Pyralid moths, herbal medicines

October 2007. Does anyone recognise these moths? They appear to belong to the pyralid subfamily Epipaschiinae and both sexes were reared from pupae collected from Chinese herbal medicines. Wingspan is 45 mm for the female and 38 mm for the male. The photos aren’t very clear so it is hard to see, but there are several raised scale tufts on the forewings of both sexes. The male also has enlarged plume-like basal antennal segments which are curved back over the head. The labial palps are also enlarged and curved upwards in the male and to a lesser degree in the female.

These moths were intercepted and reared out from pupae in 2002 and have remained unidentified in the DAFF, Australia, collection since then, so there are no details on the larvae.

Clearly pyraloid. With heavily pectinate antennae in the male, this has to be either Pyralinae or Epipaschiinae. There appear to be no raised tufts of scales on the wing, which is a typical feature (but not characteristic) of Epipaschiinae – Locastra is an Epipaschiinae genus that could fit the bill. The similarly shaped L muscosalis is large, robust and without raised scale tufts. The epipaschiine larvae (including L muscosalis) are communal web weavers. One other epipaschiine genus fits the antennae – Coenodomus – though species in this small genus seem to have plenty of scale tufts on the wings. If no web, then probably a stout pyralinae. However, as it has been confirmed that there are scalesufts, the moth can only be an Epipaschiine pyralid (within Pyraloidea).

It would be best to contact Professor LI Hou Hun [lihouhu[email protected]] at the College of Life Science, Nankai University, Tianjin, China. He specialises in microlepidoptera of China, and has a post-graduate student working on Pyralidae (sensu stricto).

Other contributions from members mentioned that there is a Pyraloid moth known as Phostria oconnori from Samoa; possibly, illustrated in The Insects of Samoa (1927), but the general colour is yellow (later, it was said that the illustrations do not resemble the insects illustrated from the herbal medicine. Also, Phostria (=Omiodes in part) is a spilomeline crambid – these don’t have wing scaletufts. Another contributor thought the moth belonged to the Pyralidae – or rather Crambidae (the family Pyralidae is generally split now) – but it was doubted that it belonged to Epipaschniinae. More likely Pyraustinae based on general appearance. (This was not supported by the discussion above).