Mehlzünsler ( Pyralis farinalis )

The Zünslerfalter ( Pyraloidea ) are approximately 16,000 described species worldwide one of the largest superfamilies of butterflies (Lepidoptera ). The expected number of species but roughly doubled.


Wing shape and drawing and sitting posture of the moths varied. Your forewing length ranges from 5 to 75 millimeters, but the majority of the species has a wing length of less than 15 millimeters. In Central Europe the Buchsbaumzünsler and Ostrinia palustralis belong with forewing length of about 20 millimeters of the largest representatives of the Zünslerfalter. Most species have the head labial palps, Maxillarpalpen and a proboscis. Characteristics that justify the monophyly of this group, the structure of the paired Tympanalorgane on the ventral side of the second abdominal segment ( only a few species have regressed or not Tympanalorgane ), the proboscis is scaly at the base, the veins R3 and R4 of the fore wings are at the base or united throughout their length with each other and in the hind wings together united veins Sc R1 vein Rs are approached or basally united with this.

The eggs are flattened, oval or lens-shaped and have a thin shell that is only structured plain.


Types of Pyraloidea can be found all over the world, even on remote islands such as the Azores, Hawaii archipelagos, as well as from the coast to the nival zone of the high mountains. You simply missing in the Antarctic. As with many other groups of organisms, the most species in the low and medium altitudes in the tropics occur, the Neotropics has the most species as well as the only occurring there Chrysauginae, Linos Tinae and Midi Linae. Some species have been spread by people around the world, such as Plodia interpunctella. Some species-rich genera, such as Udea of the subfamily Spilomelinae or Eudonia the Scopariinae are rife with endemic species both on the continents and on remote islands of the oceans. Other genera are distributed over an entire climate zone, such as Agathodes and Synclera the Spilomelinae, in the tropics of the Old and New Worlds.

Way of life

The caterpillars of primitive species of Pyralidae feed on fungi and / or dry or decaying animal or plant materials. The oligophagen caterpillars of some primitive Crambidae feed on cryptogams, such as algae, mosses, ferns and lichens. It is believed that the adaptation of the most original species of moth of these original groups of plants was therefore, as the moths already existed to a geological period in which seed plants had not yet developed. Regardless feeds the majority of the types of Pyraloidea of nude and angiosperms. In addition, with some species that feed on plant lice predatory and other insects, or as parasites and live on nest building insects.

Among the butterflies show the types of Pyraloidea one of the greatest width at different ways of life. The vast majority of larvae of the superfamily lives but hidden. You roll, fold or weave together music, build tunnels or tubes of sand, excretions or spun silk, drill in branches, roots, shoots, buds, fruits, seeds or plant galls, leaf miners live as or hiding in insect nests. The caterpillars of the subfamily Acentropinae are even adapted to life under water.

The moth and man

Some species are in agriculture, forestry and inventory management as well as beekeeping as serious pests. Among them are in the agriculture of the European corn borer ( Ostrinia nubilalis ), in forestry the Harzzünsler the genus Dioryctria in the stock industry, the flour moth ( Ephestia kuehniella ) and Indian meal moth ( Plodia interpunctella ) and in beekeeping the little wax moth ( Achroia grisella ) call to.

Only a few species are for the people directly as useful these are mostly those species that are used in the course of the biological plant protection against weeds.

Threats and conservation

The Zünslerfalter were considered in the past, mainly from the perspective of its economic importance to humans. These are in Central Europe the pests in agriculture, forestry and inventory management as well as beekeeping. But occur 272 species of Zünslerfalter in Germany alone. Of these, 18 species are classified as invasive species. Of the remaining 254 species 114 species ( 44.7 %) in the red list of endangered animals in Germany are included.


The structure of the Tympanalorgane varies within the Zünslerfalter. There are two plan types, each with several distinct features of these two plan types are interpreted as two distinct evolutionary lines, which are classified in zoology first as Pyraliformes and Crambiformes and later as two families:

  • Pyralidae
  • Crambidae

This early splitting of Zünslerfalter into two large groups is confirmed by molecular genetic studies. In the old, established in accordance with the classifications similarities Pyraloidea also the families of Pterophoridae, Thyrididae, Tineodidae, Hyblaeidae, Oxychirotidae, Alucitidae and Dudgeoneidae were attributed. However, these do not Tympanalorgane and are not even related in part directly related to the Zünslerfaltern.

For the determination of the Central European species are especially the works of Hannemann (1964) and Slamka (1995) and the provision of assistance Lepiforums. Older works such as those of Eckstein ( 1933) or the arrangements of Zünslerfalter Britain by Goater (1986) and Sterling, Parsons & Lewington (2012 ) are only suitable for the determination of the Central European species, because they are not a large part of occurring in Central Europe species included.