Spodoptera picta (Guerin-Meneville, [1831])
(formerly known as Polia picta)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Spodoptera picta
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

These Caterpillars are smooth-skinned and pale grey with a series of longitudinal black lines, and with dark patches on the mesothorax and the last abdominal segment. The central dorsal line becomes yellow in later instars .

Spodoptera picta
(Photo: courtesy of Darren O'Connell)

They are a pest in suburban gardens in Sydney, damaging a variety of species from the Amaryllis family ( AMARYLLIDACEAE ), including :

  • Kaffir Lily ( Clivea miniata ),
  • Swamp Lily ( Crinum pedunculatum ),
  • Spider Lily ( Hymenocallis littoralis ), and
  • Amaryllis ( Hippeastrum species ).

    Spodoptera picta

    The caterpillars bore into the leaves and down into the crown of the bulb, growing to a length of about 5 cms.

    Spodoptera picta
    (Specimen: courtesy of Daniel Brown, Meadowbank, New South Wales)

    They pupate with no cocoon in the soil near the food plant.

    Spodoptera picta
    (Photo: by Debs Raymont, Woolloomooloo, New South Wales,
    courtesy of Boris Branwhite)

    The adult moth is very pretty. The forewings are buff with a pattern of red and black markings. The hindwings are plain buff coloured. The body is brown. The moth has a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    Spodoptera picta
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The eggs are laid in a mass on the underside of a foodplant leaf and covered in pale brown hairs. The mass has a width of about 7 mm.

    Spodoptera picta
    (Specimen: courtesy of Daniel Brown, Meadowbank, New South Wales)

    The species occurs from India to Samoa, including:

  • Borneo,
  • Guam,
  • Taiwan,

    and in Australia in:

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Spodoptera picta
    (Photo: courtesy of Roy Ward)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 32.6, 32.7, pp. 32, 461.

    Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville,
    Voyage autour du monde sur la covette La Coquille,
    Volume 2, Part 2 (1838), p. 285, and also Plate 19, fig. 7.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 121.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, pp. 3, 191.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 20 July 2013, 27 April 2015)