Spilosoma curvata (Donovan, 1805)
Crimson Tiger Moth
(also known as Ardices curvata)
ARCTIINAE ,   ARCTIIDAE ,   NOCTUOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Spilosoma curvata eggs

This Caterpillar starts life as one of an array of white globular eggs laid by its mother moth.

Spilosoma curvata larva

Like most Spilosoma Caterpillars, it is dark and hairy. The hairs are brown over most of the whole body, but are noticeably darker on the first three segments. It has a yellow line down the back, and a black head. It eats various herbaceous plants in broad daylight, We have found it feeding on:

  • Dandelions ( Taraxacum officinale, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris, FABACEAE ),
  • Geranium ( Pelargonium x zonale, GERANIACEAE ), and
  • Nasturtiums ( Tropaeolum majus, TROPAEOLACEAE ).

    When fully grown, the caterpillar has a length of about 3 cms. It then goes walk-about in search of a dry leaf or crevice in which to form its cocoon and pupate.

    Spilosoma curvata
    (Photo: courtesy of Alexson Ho, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The moth emerges after about a fortnight in summer or four months across winter. It has a stout hairy body. The thorax is brown with black marks on top and at each side. The abdomen is bright red with a black mark on the top of each segment.

    Spilosoma curvata
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The species has very variable wing patterns. Basically the forewings are yellow with irregular broken black bands from front to back. Each hindwing is pink with a black spot near the middle, and a black border just within the outer margin. The main hindwing colour of some specimens is yellow. The wingspan is about 3 cms.

    Spilosoma curvata
    (Specimen: Sydney, New South Wales, courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The species is found over most of Australia, including

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

    Spilosoma curvata
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Laura Levens, Upper Beaconsfield, Victoria)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 19.11, p. 435.

    Edward Donovan,
    General Illustration of Entomology,
    An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans,
    London (1803), p. 156. and also Plate on p. 154.

    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, pl. VIII-IX.

    Peter Hendry,
    The Australian Arctiid Moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuoidea: Erebidae) with emphasis on Creatonotos Gangis,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 65 (June 2012), pp. 6-8,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

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


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    (updated 22 April 2012)