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Family Gelechiidae - Twirler Moths

Leaf miner caterpillar, lamb's quarter - Chrysoesthia sexguttella Dead pupa - Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis Scrub oak skeletonizer - Pseudotelphusa Dichomeris_costarufoella_2 - Dichomeris costarufoella Gelechiidae, on Monarda, pupa - Chionodes fondella Insect larvae Moth - Pubitelphusa latifasciella Gelechiidae, Palmerworm Moth on Gooseberry, dorsal - Dichomeris ligulella
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Gelechioidea (Twirler Moths and kin)
Family Gelechiidae (Twirler Moths)
Other Common Names
Gelechiid Moths
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Gelechiidae Stainton, 1854 (1), (2).
BugGuide follows the higher taxonomy proposed by Karsholt et al. (2013) (3)
Explanation of Names
Gelechiidae from the type genus Gelechia (Hübner), from Greek meaning "resting on the ground." (4)
The common name of "twirler" comes from their habit of spinning in circles on leaf surfaces.(5)
886 species and 92 genera in 6 subfamilies in NA, >4,600 described spp. in ca. 500 genera worldwide. (6)
Wingspan 7-25 mm (most species in 10-20 mm range).
Adult - FW narrowly rounded or pointed at apex; HW of most species trapezoidal, drawn out to point at apex (outer margin concave below apex); long labial palps (3 segments), upcurved, with third segment long and tapering; hind tibia covered with long hair-scales above; filiform antennae (male & female); tibial spur pattern invariably 0-2-4.

Below is a guide to the local subfamilies of Gelechiidae. The images included are meant to be illustrative of the general appearance of each subfamily as an aid for narrowing down possibilities for identification. While the commonest elements of forewing maculation in each subfamily are represented, many patterns are not.

Larval habits vary widely: includes leaf miners, leaf folders and tiers, gall makers, and fruit & seed feeders.
Many species are serious pests of crops and stored grain products.
Print References
Busck, A., 1903. A revision of the American moths of the family Gelechiidae: with descriptions of the new species. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, 25: 767-930, pl. 28-32. (7)
Hodges, R. W. 1966. Revision of the Nearctic Gelechiidae, I. The Lita Group (Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea). Proceedings of The United States National Museum, 119 (3547): 1-66; pl. 31. (8)
Stainton, H.T. 1854. Insecta Britannica (Lepidoptera: Tineina): 75 (Gelechidae)
Lee et al. 2009. (6)
Internet References
Thorough list Gelechiidae references by Sangmi Lee at Mississippi State University here
Works Cited
1.Revision of Holarctic Teleiodini (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)
Sangmi Lee & Richard L. Brown (2008). 2008. Zootaxa 1818: 1–55 .
2.A catalogue of the family-group and genus-group names of the Gelechiidae, Holcopogonidae, Lecithoceridae and Symmocidae
Klaus Sattler. 1973. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology 28(4): 153-182.
3.A molecular analysis of the Gelechiidae (Lepidoptera, Gelechioidea) with an interpretative grouping of its taxa
Karsholt, O., M. Mutanen, S. Lee, & L. Kaila. 2013. Systematic Entomology. 38 (2):334–348.
4.An accentuated list of the British Lepidoptera, with hints on the derivation of the names.
Anonymous. 1858. The Entomological Societies of Oxford and Cambridge.
5.Hidden Company that Trees Keep: Life from Treetops to Root Tips
James B. Nardi. 2023. Princeton University Press.
6.Checklist of Gelechiidae (Lepidoptera) in America North of Mexico
Lee S., Hodges R.W., Brown R.L. 2009. Zootaxa 2231: 1–39.
7.A revision of the American moths of the family Gelechiidae, with descriptions of new species
August Busck. 1903. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 25: 767-938.
8.Revision of Nearctic Gelechiidae. 1. The Lita group (Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea)
R. W. . Hodges. 1966. Proceedings of The United States National Museum 119: 1-66.