Southern Old Lady Moth
CATOCALINAE , NOCTUIDAE , NOCTUOIDEA
(Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)
This Caterpillar feeds at night. By day, it lies among the shadows : along the underside of a stem of its foodplant, or under a dead leaf near to its foodplant.
The caterpillar varies in colour from pale to dark brown, and has sparse short stiff hairs, and a two small horns on the penultimate segment. Its legs are pale orange, as is its head, which also has a broad black-edged pale stripe each side. The caterpillar has some large black spots underneath.
Caterpillars of this species have been found feeding on a variety of Wattles ( Acacia species, MIMOSACEAE ).
The caterpillar is attacked by various predators and parasites.
The caterpillar matures in about three weeks in summer, and grows to a length of about 7 cms.
It pupates sometimes in a cocoon, sometimes in the leaf litter or under the bark.
One specimen had a pupal duration of 19 days in summer in Melbourne.
The adult is brown above and orange-brown beneath. The upper surfaces have a pattern of darker lines, and each forewing has a large blue, brown and black eyespot in the central area. This eyespot has a semicircular internal structure. Underneath: each wing has a small black discal spot.
The moth is well known for its habit of entering houses and sitting motionless for many hours in full view. The moth has a wingspan of up to 9 cms.
Eggs were laid by one specimen in cracks in pieces of bark in December in Melbourne.
The species is common over the southern half of Australia, but has been found in
Further reading :
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 46.2, pp. 55, 451.
in Boisduval & Guenée :
Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
Volume 7, Tome 3 (1852), p. 175.
Pat and Mike Coupar,
New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 70.
(updated 26 August 2011, 10 April 2017)