Classification of the Lepidoptera above the superfam-ily level is subject to debate among taxonomists, The simple separation of the order into two groups, moths and butterflies, is no longer phylogenetically appropriate. Nonetheless, for the purpose of this chapter, the terms "moths" and "butterflies" will be used in the generally accepted context for the species discussed. Virtually all species of medical-veterinary importance are members of the following four superfamilies: Bombycoidea, Noctuoidea, Papilionoidea, and Zygaenoidea. For details on the higher classification of the Lepidoptera, see Kristensen (1984), Nielsen and Common (1991), and Scoble (1992).

Among the more than 100 lepidopteran families, 14 include species which as larvae cause health-related problems. Twelve of these families are moths and two are butterflies. They represent more than 60 genera and 100 species worldwide. Members of at least 9 families and 42 genera are known to cause medically related problems as larvae in North America. The families most commonly encountered as problems are Limacodidae, Megalopy-gidae, and Saturniidae. Other important families in various parts of the world are the Arctiidae, Lasiocampidae, and Lymantriidae.

Six families of Lepidoptera that include species in which adults feed on animal wounds and various body secretions are Geometridae, Noctuidae, Notodontidae, Pyralidae, Sphingidae, and Thyatiridae. The species most commonly observed feeding on animals are Lobocraspis£ri-seifasa (Noctuidae), Hypochrosis species (Geometridae), and Filodes and Microstega species (Pyralidae) in Southeast Asia. In Africa, Arcyophora species (Noctuidae) are more important. The only species which are known to be capable of piercing vertebrate skin are members of the noctuid genus Calyptra, also in Southeast Asia.

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