Spilosoma canescens (Butler, 1875)
Light Ermine or Dark-spotted Tiger Moth
(also known as : Ardices canescens)
ARCTIINI,   ARCTIINAE,   EREBIDAE,   NOCTUOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Spilosoma canescens larva
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

This, like most Spilosoma Caterpillars, is dark and hairy. The hairs are uniformly brown over the whole body. It has a yellow line down the back, and a brown head.

Spilosoma canescens larva
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

It eats various herbaceous plants. We have found it feeding on:

  • Cobblers Pegs ( Bidens pilosa, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Sunflowers ( Helianthus annuus, ASTERACEAE),
  • Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Hollyhocks ( Alcea rosea, MALVACEAE ),
  • Plantains ( Plantago species, PLANTAGINACEAE ), and
  • Roses ( Rosa odorata, ROSACEAE ).

    Spilosoma canescens pupa
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    It grows to a length of about 3 cm., then leaves the foodplant, and looks for a dry spot in the soil surface debris, where it forms its cocoon and pupates

    Spilosoma canescens
    (Photo: courtesy Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The moth has white wings with brown flecks. The markings on the wings are interesting, because the pattern and degree of marking differs even between moths reared from the same brood of eggs.

    Spilosoma canescens
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The thorax is white (unlike that of Spilosoma glatygni, which has a black thorax under white hairs). The legs are black, but the hairs on the femur and upper surface of the abdomen are bright red. Underneath the abdomen is off-white.

    Spilosoma canescens
    eggs, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Bronwyn King, Melba, Australian Capital Territory)

    The eggs are pale green and spherical. They are laid under a foodplant leaf, in neat arrays of about 100.

    The species is found over much of Australia, including:

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

    Spilosoma canescens
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy John Mansfield, Black Head, New South Wales)


    Further reading :

    Arthur G. Butler,
    Revision of the genus Spilosoma and the allied groups of the Family Arctiidae,
    Cistula Entomologica,
    Volume 2 (1875), p. 29.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 44.1, p. 435.

    L.C. Haines,
    Tiger Moths of the County of Cumberland, New South Wales,
    Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales,
    April 1969, pp. 59-61, pls. VIII-IX.

    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), pp. 154-155.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 2,
    Tiger Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA (A)
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2009, pp. 28-29.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 16.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 183.


    previous
    back
    caterpillar
    Australian
    Australian Butterflies
    butterflies
    Australian
    home
    Lepidoptera
    Australian
    Australian Moths
    moths
    next
    next
    caterpillar

    (updated 22 May 2013, 23 January 2019, 28 October 2020, 8 February 2021)