Utetheisa pulchelloides Hampson, 1907
Heliotrope Moth
(one synonym : Utetheisa dorsifusa Prout, 1920)
ARCTIINAE ,   ARCTIIDAE ,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley
and
Pat & Mike Coupar

Utetheisa pulchelloides larva
(Photo from: "Flying Colours", Coupar & Coupar, 1992)

The Caterpillars have sparse grey hairs, and are black with orange spots, and have broken cream lines along the body: a narrow line along each side, and broad line along the back. The caterpillars feed on various plants from BORAGINACEAE such as:

  • Octopus Bush ( Argusia argentea ),
  • Salvation Jane ( Echium plantagineum ),
  • Heliotrope ( Heliotropium arborescens ),
  • Forget-me-not ( Myosotis arvensis ).

    They grow to about 3 cms. The animal then pupates in a loose cocoon spun in the leaf litter on the ground below the foodplant.

    Utetheisa pulchelloides
    (Photo: courtesy of Harold McQueen, Goodna, Queensland)

    The moth looks quite white when it is flying, but at rest, the pretty pattern of red and black spots on the white forewings can be seen. Each hindwing is white with two black spots and an irregular black margin. The moth has a wingspan up to about 3 cms.

    Utetheisa pulchelloides
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The adult moth is superficially similar to Utetheisa lotrix, but there are subtle anatomical differences, and the pattern of pink and black spots is different. In particular, there are five red spots along the inner margin of each forewing (although the last two are sometimes joined). Also the males have a fold along the inner margin of each hindwing covered in hairs which appears to hold a pheromone.

    Utetheisa pulchelloides stamp
    Kiribati 1980

    The eggs are white and laid in a row or singly on a foodplant leaf.

    The species occurs widely in the Indo-Australian region, including :

  • Borneo,
  • Cook Islands,
  • New Zealand,
  • Papua,
  • Thailand,

    and much of Australia, including

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia,
  • Western Australia,
  • Norfolk Island, and
  • Keeling Islands.

    Utetheisa pulchelloides
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

    Note that this is a different species from Utetheisa pulchella (Linnaeus, 1758), which occurs mainly in the northern hemisphere.

    The correct genus name is Utetheisa; author Hubner (with an umlaut over the u), 1819. Sometimes it is listed as Utethesia, but this is a misspelling made by Moore in 1860.


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 19.15, pp. 46, 434.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 35.

    George F. Hampson,
    Annals and Magazine of Natural History,
    Series 7, Volume 19 (1907), pp. 239-240, No. 2086.

    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, p. 183.


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    (updated 17 September 2011, 7 August 2014, 19 January 2016)