Moths

It is estimated that there are over 2000 species of moth in NZ. This table lists some of the families of moths found in NZ, with an estimate of the number of NZ species. Introduced species are included in brackets.

Common Name Family notes NZ Species
Ghost Moths Hepialidae Ghost moths don’t have a mouth and don’t live very long. ~28
Looper Moths Geometridae One of the largest moth families and closely related to butterflies. 280+
Owlet Moths Noctuidae fat dull moths, often with eye spots on the wings. 170+
Hawk Moths Sphingidae Strong fliers with long narrow front wings. 1(?)
Emperor Moths Saturniidae. Large, fat, and hairy, with no mouth. 0 (2)
Bag Moths Psychidae The caterpillars spend their whole life in a bag like structure. 50+
Snout Moths Pyraloidea Pearl Moths (Pyralidae) and Grass Moths (Crambidae) are also grouped together as Snout Moths (Pyraloidea) because their palps often stick out in front making a “snout”. 255+
Leafrollers Tortricidae Also known as “bell moths” because of their shape with folded wings. Includes the Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella) ~185
Tiger Moths Arctiidae These are often brightly coloured and day flying, sometimes mistaken for butterflies. This family includes the Magpie Moth (Nyctemera amica) and Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae). 8
Clothes Moths Tineidae Small narrow moths. Many eat wool, hence the name. 100+
Litter Moths Oecophoridae Small moths whose caterpillars eat dead wood and leaves. ~ 260
Flat Moths Depressariidae Small flat bodied moths. ~ 15
Tussock Moths Lymantriidae Like an owlet moth only hairier. No native species, however the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar), Painted Apple Moth (Teia anartoides), and Whitespotted Tussock Moth (Orgyia thyellina) have been seen here. 0 (3?)
Burnet Moths Zygaenidae Many look like wasps. No natives in NZ, but the Bamboo Moth (Artona martini) was discovered near Whangarei in the 1990s. 0(1?)
Cabbage Moths Plutellidae small caterpillars live inside plants ~40
Snoutlet Fruit Moths Carposinidae Small with a long ‘snout’. ~25
Plume Moths Pterophoridae Small delicate moths. thin legs, body, and wings. 20+
Leaf Moths Thyrididae Patterned to look like leaves 1
Clearwing Moths Sesiidae Transparent wings 1
Leafminer Moths Gracillariidae,
Lyonetiidae, Nepticulidae
Micro moths. ~60

References and further reading

Crowe, Andrew. (2002). Which New Zealand Insect? Penguin Books. ISBN: 0141006366

What is this bug? A guide to common invertebrates of New Zealand.