Ardices curvata (Donovan, 1805)
Crimson Tiger Moth
(formerly known as Spilosoma curvata)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Ardices curvata

The caterpillar of this species is dark and hairy. The hairs are usually black, but sometimes brown along the middle of the body. The caterpillar has a straight yellow line down the back, and a zigzag yellow line along each side. The head is black.

Ardices curvata larva
(Photo: courtesy of Matthew Horne, Kenmore Hills, Queensland)

The caterpillar eats various herbaceous plants in broad daylight, We have found it feeding on:

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

    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. The moth emerges after about a fortnight in summer, or four months across winter.

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

    The adult moth has very variable wing patterns. Basically the forewings are yellow crossed by irregular curved broken black bands. Each hindwing is pink with a black spot near the middle, and a broken black border.

    Ardices curvata
    yellow form
    (Photo: courtesy of Alexson Ho, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The moths have 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. The wingspan is about 3 cms. The main hindwing colour of some specimens is yellow.

    Ardices curvata
    yellow hindwings form
    (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,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania, and
  • South Australia.

    Ardices curvata

    The eggs are white and spherical, and laid in arrays of about 100 on a leaf of a foodplant.

    Ardices curvata
    (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.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 22 April 2012, 3 August 2023)