Sugarcane moth borers are a diverse group of species occurring in several genera, but predominately within the Noctuidae and Pyraloidea. They cause economic loss in sugarcane and other crops through damage to stems and stalks by larval boring. Partial sequence data from two mitochondrial genes, COII and 16S, were used to construct a molecular phylogeny based on 26 species from ten genera and six tribes. The Noctuidae were found to be monophyletic, providing molecular support for the taxonomy within this subfamily. However, the Pyraloidea are paraphyletic, with the noctuids splitting Galleriinae and Schoenobiinae from the Crambinae. This supports the separation of the Pyralidae and Crambinae, but does not support the concept of the incorporation of the Schoenobiinae in the Crambidae. Of the three crambine genera examined, Diatraea was monophyletic, Chilo paraphyletic, and Eoreuma was basal to the other two genera. Within the Noctuidae, Sesamia and Bathytricha were monophyletic, with Busseola basal to Bathytricha. Many species in this study (both noctuids and pyraloids) had different biotypes within collection localities and across their distribution; however the individual biotypes were not phylogenetically informative. These data highlight the need for taxonomic revisions at all taxon levels and provide a basis for the development of DNA-based diagnostics for rapidly identifying many species at any developmental stage. This ability is vital, as the species are an incursion threat to Australia and have the potential to cause significant losses to the sugar industry.