Hecatesia fenestrata Boisduval, 1828
Whistling Moth
AGARISTINAE ,   NOCTUIDAE ,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Mike & Pat Coupar
and
Stella Crossley

Hecatesia fenestrata
(Photo: courtesy of Paul Whitington, Wonboyn, New South Wales)

This Caterpillar is fleshy with sparse white hairs along the body. It has irregular bands of orange, black, and pale yellow, and also a prominent lateral pale yellow line, and an area of red near the tail.

Hecatesia fenestrata
(Photo: courtesy of Paul Whitington, Wonboyn, New South Wales)

The caterpillar is solitary, and feeds nocturnally on:

  • Dodder Laurel ( Cassytha, LAURACEAE ).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 3 cms. When fully grown, the caterpillar wanders about for several days before pupating in a crevice or in the soil.

    Hecatesia fenestrata
    female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The forewings of the adult moths are black with white markings, and the hind wings are orange with a black margin. The abdomen is orange on top and black underneath. The females have a wingspan of about 3 cms. The males have a wingspan of about 2.5 cms.

    Hecatesia fenestrata
    male, drawing by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Dechauffour de Boisduval,

    Essai sur une Monographie des Zygénides, suivi du Tableau Méthodique, des Lépidoptères d'Europe, 1829, Plate 1, fig. 2,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Library.

    The males claim to fame is having curved transparent 'window' in each forewing. They also 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.

    Hecatesia fenestrata
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Stephen Warwick, Devonport, Tasmania)

    This species occurs over the south-eastern quarter of Australia, including

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria, and
  • Tasmania.

    Hecatesia fenestrata
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)


    Further reading :

    Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Dechauffour de Boisduval,
    Essai sur une monographie des zygénides, suivi du tableau méthodique, des lépidoptères d'Europe,
    Paris : Chez Méquignon-Marvis, 1829, pp. 11-12, and also Plate 1, fig. 2.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 22.22, pp. 50, 464.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 71.


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    (updated 26 October 2011, 22 January 2014)