giant swift moth Hepialidae lepidopteran ghost moths Fraus infraorder Exoporia

- Image ID: B7P6F1
19th era / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: B7P6F1
Hepialidae is a family of insects in the lepidopteran order. Moths of this family are often referred to as swift moths or ghost moths. Hepialidae constitute by far the most diverse group of the infraorder Exoporia. There are 60 genera and at least 587 currently recognised species of these primitive moths recorded worldwide. The genera Fraus (endemic to Australia), Gazoryctra (Holarctic), Afrotheora (Southern African), and Antihepialus (African) are considered to be the most primitive, containing four genera and about 51 species with a mostly relictual southern Gondwanan distribution and are currently separated from the Hepialidae sensu stricto which might form a natural, derived group. The most diverse genera are Oxycanus with 73 species, Endoclita with 60 species, Thitarodes with 51 species and Cibyra with 50 species following a comprehensive catalogue of Exoporia. The relationships of the many genera are not yet well established; see below for an ordered synonymic generic checklist, and the Taxobox for navigation. The family Hepialidae is considered to be very primitive with a number of structural differences to other moths including very short antennae and lack of a functional proboscis or frenulum (see Kristensen, 1999: 61-62 for details). Like other Exoporia the sperm is transferred to the egg by an external channel between the "ostium" and the ovipore. Other non-ditrysian moths have a common cloaca. The moths are "homoneurous" with similar forewings and hindwings and are sometimes included as 'honorary' members of the Macrolepidoptera. Strictly speaking they are phylogenetically too basal and constitute Microlepidoptera, although hepialids range from very small moths to a wingspan record of 250 mm in Zelotypia . Because of their sometimes large size and striking colour patterns, they have received relatively more popular and taxonomic attention than most "micros".