Chelepteryx chalepteryx (R. Felder, 1874)
White Stemmed Wattle Moth
(one synonym: Darala cupreotincta Lucas, 1892)
ANTHELINAE ,   ANTHELIDAE ,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Chelepteryx chalepteryx
(Photo: courtesy of Peter Street, Sydney, New South Wales)

This is a large reddish-brown caterpillar with pale spots, and a pale ine along the back.. The caterpillar is covered in dense hairs and bristles, which may cause severe irritation if handled. It has been found feeding on:

  • Wattles ( Acacia, MIMOSACEAE ), and
  • Gymea Lily ( Doryanthes excelsa, AMARYLLIDACEAE ).

    and in captivity has accepted

  • Native Cherry ( Exocarpus cupressiformis, SANTALACEAE ),
  • Sour Bush ( Choretrum candollei, SANTALACEAE ), and
  • Pine ( Pinus, PINACEAE ).

    Chelepteryx chalepteryx
    (Photo: courtesy of Francis Hawkshaw)

    The caterpillar grows to a length of 7 cms.

    It pupates in a cocoon under bark or in a crevice such as under the eaves of buildings. The cocoon is also covered in bristles which can penetrate the skin and break off, causing pain and irritation.

    Chelepteryx chalepteryx
    Female
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian McMillan, Imbil, Queensland)

    The adult moth is large, with a wingspan up to 10 cms. It is brown with darker markings, and a pair of small spots on each forewing.

    Chelepteryx chalepteryx
    Male
    (Photo: courtesy of C. Griffiths, New South Wales)

    The hindwings are red toward the base, and have a black submarginal castellated marking. The sexes are similar, except that the male has stronger markings than the female, and the antennae are feathery.

    Chelepteryx chalepteryx
    Female
    (Photo: courtesy of Julian Robinson, Milton, New South Wales)

    The hindwings are normally covered, but are dramatically displayed when the moth is disturbed. The moth sometimes adopts an asymmetrical posture, with the abdomen bent under the wings.

    Chelepteryx chalepteryx
    Male, showing asymmmetric posture
    (Photo: courtesy of Neil Ramsay, New South Wales)

    The species occurs over much of the eastern Australia, including:

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales, and
  • Victoria.

    Chelepteryx chalepteryx
    Male
    (Photo: courtesy of Susan Foyle)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 13.1, p. 394.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 28.

    Rudolf Felder,
    Zoologischer Theil: Lepidoptera,
    Reise der Osterreichischen Fregatte Novara,
    Band 2, Abtheilung 2 (5) (1875), p. 3, and also Plate 98, fig. 10.

    Peter Hendry,
    The Anthelidae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 50 (September 2008), pp 27-31,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    On 34 new species of Australian Lepidoptera, with additional localities,
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland,
    Volume 8 (1892), pp. 75-76.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 20-21.


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    (updated 4 March 2013, 6 February 2017)