The pyralids are a large and diverse family of mostly small or medium-sized moths, including various types of webworms, leaf tiers, wax moths, leaf folders, leaf rollers, and more. The pyralid family used to be even larger before the crambid snout moths (Crambidae) — another large group — were split away in their own family. Unfortunately, the two families can be very hard to tell apart by amateurs. If you can’t tell whether a moth is a pyralid or a crambid, you can sidestep the issue and say the moth is in superfamily Pyraloidea (the huge group that now includes both families).
Adult pyralids hold their wings flat out to the side (looking triangular from above), or fold them flat down their back, or roll them around their abdomens (so that they look like a piece of a twig). Some (usually males), when resting, curl the abdomen up into the air. Most have camouflage mottled, wavy, or banded patterns and coloration of tans, browns, and grays. Rusts, ochers, pinks, yellows, and silvery beige are also common.
Larvae vary greatly but usually lack dense hairs or spines. Few are brightly colored; most are green or brown. They usually are not seen in the open, and this is an identification clue: Most pyralid caterpillars are sheltered as they feed, boring into stems, fruits, seeds of plants; rolling or tying leaves with silk to create protective tubes or tents; or living in the soil. Some species live in the nests of bees or wasps, and some eat the stored grain of humans.