Zygaenoidea - Uncovering Gondwana

The Zygaenoidea currently consists of approximately 3,300 species in 12 families. Phylogeny of this superfamily is highly debated. Qiu-Ning Liu and colleagues in 2016, based on studies of the mitochondrial genome, concluded that the Yponomeutoidea is basal to the sister taxa Zygaenoidea and Tortricoidea. Mitter and colleagues (2017), in a review of the phylogeny and evolution of Lepidoptera, indicated a more complex phylogeny with Yponomeutoidea still basal but a series of superfamilies (Tortricoidea, Urodoidea, Choreutoidea, Immoidea, Galacticoidea) branching before a closely related clade involving Zygaenoidea, Cossoidea and Sesioidea.

Zygaenoid larvae are typically slow growing and heavily defended. They may be brightly coloured, aposematic, or cryptic. Many have setae containing skin irritants potentially causing painful skin reactions in humans.

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