Anthela varia (Walker, 1855)
Hairy Mary
(one synonym : Darala pinguis Walker, 1865)
ANTHELINAE,   ANTHELIDAE,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Anthela varia
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

This Caterpillar begins life as one of a row of eggs laid by its mother. The newly hatched Caterpillars are black with a white thorax and long sparse grey hairs. They mainly seem to feed on the leaves of:

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE ),
    but they have also been found on plants in other families, including
  • Macadamia Nuts ( Macadamia integrifolia, PROTEACEAE ),
  • Willow ( Salix, SALICACEAE ), and
  • Pecan ( Carya, JUGLANDACEAE ).

    Anthela varia
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 7 cms.

    Anthela varia
    (Photo: courtesy of Donald Hobern, Aranda, Australian Capital Territory)

    When mature, they become brown with long dense tufts of white hair on the sides between each pair of segments.

    Anthela varia
    Cocoon cut open to reveal pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    They pupate in a buff papery double-walled cocoon among dead leaves or under a log.

    Anthela varia
    male
    photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, from
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art

    The adult moths vary in colour from yellow to brown, with a zig-zag submarginal line, and often a brown-edged yellow midline across each wing. The forewings each have two dark spots, and the hindwings one. The females can have wingspans up to 9 cms. The males are somewhat smaller.

    Anthela varia
    female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The species is found mainly in the coastal areas of eastern Australia, including:

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Anthela varia
    male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Donald Hobern, Aranda, Australian Capital Territory)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 28.5, p. 395.

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

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 22-23.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 11.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 4 (1855), pp. 890-891, No. 6.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 156.


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    (updated 24 April 2013)