Nyctemera secundiana T.P. Lucas, 1891
(erroneously: Nyctemera secundaria)
Don Herbison-Evans
Rob de Vos & Stella Crossley

Nyctemera secundiana larva

This Caterpillar has alternate orange and dark blue bands along the body, and is covered sparsely with long thin dark hairs. On each side of the head there is a cluster of longer dark hairs, which together look rather like a pair of horns. It feeds on garden plants and weeds in ASTERACEAE, such as:

  • Fireweed ( Crassocephalum crepidioides ), and
  • Climbing Groundsel ( Senecio scandens ).

    If disturbed, the caterpillar will drop to the ground and walk quickly away.

    Nyctemera secundiana larva
    (Photo: courtesy of Nick Monaghan, Noosa, Queensland)

    The Caterpillar grows to a length of about 3 cms. It pupates in a thin walled cocoon under a leaf of its foodplant. The pupa is handsome too, having alternate light and dark brown segments.

    Nyctemera secundiana
    (Photo: courtesy of Evan Harris, Ipswich, Queensland)

    After two to three weeks, the moth emerges. The adult moth has a wingspan of about 4 cms. It is dark brown except for a broad irregular white band across each forewing, and a large white patch near the front margin of each hind wing. The body has alternate black and yellow bands.

    The adult moth is superficially similar to Nyctemera amicus, but can be distinguished by the shape of the fascia on the forewings, the colour of the white pattern, the shape of the white disc on the hindwings, and the black pattern on the abdomen. Furthermore N. amicus has wings with yellow fringes and a black background colour, while N. secundiana has colourless fringes and the ground colour of the wings is dark brown. The moth is frequently seen flying during the day.

    Nyctemera secundiana
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The eggs are laid in an open cluster, but separate from each other.

    The species occurs in the south-west pacific area,, including

  • Borneo,
  • Fiji,
  • Papua,
  • Sumatra,

    and also commonly in Australia, including

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales.

    Nyctemera baulus
    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

    The range and DNA barcode are sufficiently similar to that of Nyctemera baulus, to suggest that these are two races of the same species, or else ecological variants of the same species. This cannot be decided until they have been more studied.

    Nyctemera baulus
    side view
    (Photo: courtesy of Harold McQueen, Goodna, Queensland)

    Further reading :

    Peter Hendry,
    A Night at Ray's,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 57 (June 2010), pp. 30-32,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    On Queensland and other Australian Macro-Lepidoptera, with Localities and Descriptions of new Species,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Series 2, Volume 6, Part 2 (1891), pp. 280-281.

    Buck Richardson,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2008, p. 13.

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

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 10 February 2013, 15 March 2015)