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

Anthela varia
(Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

The Caterpillars of this species are dark brown, with tufts of long white hairs, and with a pair of white marks on the meta-thorax.

Anthela varia
(Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

The caterpillars mainly seem to feed on the leaves of:

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE ).

    Anthela varia
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

    The caterpillars have also been found on plants in other families, including

  • Pecan ( Carya, JUGLANDACEAE ),
  • Macadamia Nuts ( Macadamia integrifolia, PROTEACEAE ), and
  • Willow ( Salix, SALICACEAE ).

    Anthela varia
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

    The caterpillars have denser shorter black hairs around the head and thorax, and on the final abdominal segments, and a prominent pair of white hair pencils behind the thorax.

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

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 7 cms.

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

    The caterpillars 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 subbasal and submarginal zig-zag arcs, and often have a brown-edged yellow midline across each wing. The forewings each have two dark spots, and the hindwings one. The females have threadlike antennae, a bulbous abdomen, pointed forewing tips, and can have wingspans up to 9 cms. The males are somewhat smaller, have feathery antennae, and have rounded forewing tips.

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

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

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

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

    This caterpillar begins life as one of a row of egg-shaped off-white eggs, each with a length of about 1 mm.

    Anthela varia
    male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of John Bromilow, Ainslie, 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,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 50 (September 2008), pp. 27-31,

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 96.

    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, 20 July 2019, 9 November 2020, 8 November 2021)