Castor Oil Looper or Croton Caterpillar
(one synonym : Ophiusa ekeikei Bethune-Baker, 1906)
CALPINAE, EREBIDAE, NOCTUOIDEA
(Photo: courtesy of Carol Lockyer, Brisbane)
These Caterpillars hatch from blue spherical eggs, each about half a millimetre across, laid singly on the food plant.
The caterpillars are initially brown with a black and white head, a red knob 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 black. In the last instars, the brown turns to bluish-grey, and the point on tail turns black. The underside and legs become orange.
The first pair of prolegs of the caterpillars is degenerate, and so the caterpillars move in a looper fashion.
The caterpillars are a pest on:
and a pest at times on
Specimens have also been found feeding on many other plants, including :
The caterpillars grow to a length of about 5 cms. They pupate in a sparse white silk cocoon between leaves and stems of the foodplant. The pupa is brown but covered in a fine white powder.
The adult moth has forewings that have a pattern of light and dark brown. The hind wings are black with three white spots along the margin, and an hind unbroken white band. The moth has a wingspan of about 6 cms.
The adult moth is known to feed on fruit juice, and is suspected of piercing fruit to obtain it. A number of control measures have been proposed.
The eggs are laid under a foodplant leaf in an irregular cluster. The eggs are spherical and minutely ribbed. Initially they are pale green, and develop red markings as hatching approaches.
The pheromones of the species have been studied.
The species occurs in :
as well as most of Australia including:
Further reading :
Butterflies and Moths,
Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, fig. 46.10, p. 259.
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 46.10, p. 453.
Moths photographed at Obum Obum,
Issue 73 (June 2014), p. 31,
Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.
Volume 1, Edition 10 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 527, No. 184.
Moths of Victoria - Part 8,
Night Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA(B),
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2017, pp. 11, 22-23.
Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 124.
Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
A Guide to Australian Moths,
CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 195.
(updated 30 May 2013, 18 March 2017, 8 November 2020)