(one synonym: Laelia australasiae Herrich-Schäffer, )
ANTHELINAE, ANTHELIDAE, BOMBYCOIDEA
(Photo: copyright of Irene Denton, Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales)
This is a big brown hairy Caterpillar, although the longer hairs are white. The hairs are absent from between the segments giving it a tufted look. This is especially evident when it adopts its defensive posture, and curls into a tight spiral.
The hairs are very sharp, thin and brittle. They easily penetrate the skin and break off. This can affect some people causing urticaria.
The caterpillar looks like it has a white or pink nose.
The caterpillar feeds on various Wattles (Acacia, MIMOSACEAE), especially :
although it will also feed on plants from other families, such as:
The female caterpillar grows to a length of about 8 cms., but the male grows only to about 5 cms.
Our specimen pupated in a brown cocoon half way up its enclosure. The caterpillar poked its hairs through the cocoon wall before pupating inside, giving the cocoon a furry appearance, although the hairs were just as thin and brittle as when they were on the Caterpillar.
The adult moths vary in colour from grey to brownish-orange, with a number of zig-zag lines running parallel to the margin of each wing, and two small white spots outlined in black on each forewing.
The male is smaller and has feathery antennae, whereas the female has forewings with more pointed tips, and has filamentous antennae. Male moths have a wing span of about 7 cms. Females have a wing span up to about 10 cms.
The species has been found in:
(Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Whittlesea, Victoria)
Further reading :
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Dechauffour de Boisduval,
Faune Entomologique de L'Ocean Pacifique,
Voyage de Decouvertes de la Corvette l'Astrolabe,
Division 7, Part 1 : Lepidopteres (1832), pp. 226-227.
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 13.5, pp. 70, 394.
Pat and Mike Coupar,
New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 26.
Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA,
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 16-17, 20-21.
Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
A Guide to Australian Moths,
CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 156.
(updated 19 September 2011, 28 October 2017)