Spilosoma glatignyi (Le Guillou, 1841)
Black and White Tiger Moth
(also known as : Ardices glatignyi)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Spilosoma glatignyi eggs
(Photo: courtesy of Genevieve Schebeck)

Initially this Caterpillar emerges from a cluster of white eggs, which usually have been laid on a leaf of a foodplant.

Spilosoma glatignyi caterpillar
(Photo: courtesy of Liz Milner, Adelaide, South Australia)

The caterpillar is initially white with a black head. Later instars have a brown head capsule, and are very hairy, with hairs varying in colour from pale to dark brown, covering the thorax and the abdomen. The hairs are often paler on the first few abdominal segments. There are rows of pale yellow spots on the back and sides. The hairs cause a slight rash in some people.

Spilosoma glatignyi caterpillar

It feeds nocturnally on a variety of herbaceous plants from a variety of families, including:

  • Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Salvation Jane ( Echium plantagineum, BORAGINACEAE ),
  • Hop Goodenia ( Goodenia ovata, GOODENIACEAE ),
  • Plantains ( Plantago, PLANTAGINACEAE ),
  • Mirror Bush ( Coprosma repens, RUBIACEAE ), and
  • Scrub Nettle ( Urtica incisa, URTICACEAE ),

    and in South Australia, it is a pest on plantations of:

  • Monterey Pine ( Pinus radiata, PINACEAE ).

    Specimens have been observed feeding in daytime, but our experience is that these are parasitised. The Caterpillar grows to a length of 5 cms.

    Spilosoma glatignyi cocoon
    partly opened cocoon showing pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Harris, Morwell Park, Victoria)

    It pupates in a loose cocoon incorporating larval hairs and local detritus, under a log or bark or in a crevice. The pupa inside is a shiny very dark brown, with a length of about 2 cms.

    Spilosoma glatignyi pupa
    extracted naked pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Harris, Morwell Park, Victoria)

    The adult moths are very attractive, with a wingspan up to 6 cm, although the female is slightly larger than the male. The wing pattern is variable, but is commonly white with black markings.

    Spilosoma glatignyi

    The abdomen is ringed in black and scarlet. Under the white hairs, the thorax is black, unlike that of the similar species Spilosoma canescens, which has a white thorax.

    Spilosoma glatignyi
    (Photo: courtesy of Genevieve Schebeck)

    The species may be found over the whole of the southern half of Australia, including

  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Spilosoma glatignyi
    (Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith, Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 19.10, p. 435.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, pl. 19.10, p. 34.

    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.

    Elie Jean Francois Le Guillou,
    Description de huit especes de Lepidopteres,
    Revue Zoologique par la Societe Cuvierienne,
    Paris, 1841, p. 257, No. 3.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 2, 2nd edition,
    Tiger Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA (A)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2015, pp. 20-21, 28-29.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, pp. 5, 183.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 2 May 2013, 21 May 2017)