Small Whistling Moth
(one synonym : Prostheta acrypta Turner, 1922)
AGARISTINAE, NOCTUIDAE, NOCTUOIDEA
male, drawing by John O. Westwood,
A monograph of the Lepidopterous genus Castnia and some allied groups,
Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, 2nd Series (Zoology),
Volume 1 (1877), Plate XXXIII, fig. 2,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Ernst Mayr Library, Harvard University.
The Caterpillars of this species feed on the poisonous Dodder vines in the plant family LAURACEAE, such as
The forewings of the adult moths are black with white markings, and the hind wings are orange with a black margin.
The males are smaller than the females, but have a curved transparent 'window' in each forewing. The males make a clicking-whistling sound when flying. This is made in flight by a ribbed area on the forewing rubbing against a small protrusion. The noise is probably used to attract females. The moths fly in the daytime. The striking colours suggested that the adult moths might be poisonous and aposematically coloured, especially as the larvae feed on poisonous plants. However, recent research has investigated this and found that the moths are not poisonous for predators to eat, and that the moths possibly evade capture by employing a very erratic flight pattern.
The species occurs in the
Further reading :
J. Alcock & W.J. Bailey,
Acoustical communication and the mating system of the Australian whistling moth Hecatesia exultans (Noctuidae: Agaristinae),
Journal of Zoology,
Volume 237 (1995), pp. 337-352.
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 22.25, pp. 51, 464.
Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 171.
Moths of Victoria - Part 8,
Night Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA(B),
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2017, pp. 32-33.
A. Talianchich, W.J. Bailey, & E.L. Ghisalberti,
Palatability and defense in the aposematic diurnal whistling moth, Hecatesia exultans Walker (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Agaristinae),
Australian Journal of Entomology,
Volume 42, Part 3 (2003), pp. 276-280.
Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
Part 31, Supplement (1865), pp. 58-59.
Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
A Guide to Australian Moths,
CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 14.
(updated 13 September 2010, 22 August 2018, 24 November 2020)