Achaea argilla (Swinhoe, 1901)
CALPINAE ,   NOCTUIDAE ,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

These Caterpillars are initially blue-grey with black spiracles, and a grey and white head. There are raised black and white markings on the second and last abdominal segments.


Later the caterpillars become reddish brown with a black and white head, with a pair of red knobs on the tail, and a black mark on the back of the second abdominal segment. The spiracles on each side of the abdominal segments are orange with a black mark above each one. The first pair of prolegs of the caterpillars is degenerate, and so the caterpillars move in a looper fashion.


We have found specimens on :

  • Willgar ( Breynia oblongifolia, PHYLLANTHACEAE ), and
  • Spurge ( Euphorbia sp., EUPHORBICEAE ).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 5 cms.

    One pupated at the top of the jar in which it was kept, in a sparse coccon that broke as soon as the jar lid was twisted for removal and inspection, dropping the pupa to the bottom! The pupae are initially dark brown but soon become white.


    The adult moth has forewings that have a subtle brown pattern, and hind wings that are black with three white spots along the margin, and an inner unbroken white band. Underneath: the forewings have a white band between two black ones, and the hindwings have a blackspot near the tornus. The moth has a wingspan of about 5 cms.


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

    The caterpillars hatch from blue spherical eggs, each about half a millimetre across, laid in small arrays on the leaf of a food plant.


    The species is found over much of Australia, including

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland (listed as Archaea argilla), and
  • New South Wales.

    Achaea argilla
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 46.11, p. 453.

    Charles Swinhoe,
    On Indian and Australian moths,
    The Annals and Magazine of Natural History,
    Series 7, Volume 8 (1901), p. 132.


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    (updated 23 June 2011, 18 March 2017)