Southern Old Lady Moth
CATOCALINAE, EREBIDAE, NOCTUOIDEA
(Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)
This Caterpillar has irregular stripes along the body which in colour vary from pale to dark brown, and several white dots on each segment. The caterpillar feeds at night. During the 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 has sparse short stiff hairs, and a two small orange horns on the penultimate segment. Its true legs are orange. The head is brown with an orange stripe edged by a black stripe each side.
The last instar has two transverse black dashes between abdominal segments one and two, and another pair between abdominal segments two and three.
The final instar has an intricate orange and brown pattern on a collar behind the head, and has some large black spots underneath the abdomen.
Caterpillars of this species have been found feeding on
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 varies from greyish brown to orange-brown. The upper wing 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. The underside of each wing has a small black discal spot.
The moth is well known for its habit of hibernating in nooks and crannies in garages and even houses, and sitting motionless for months, sometimes in full view. The moth has a wingspan of up to 9 cms.
The eggs are black and spherical, and minutely ridged and pitted. In Melbourne: eggs were laid by one specimen in a small array on a surface in October, and by another specimen in cracks in pieces of bark in December.
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.
Pat and Mike Coupar,
New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 70.
in Boisduval & Guenée :
Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
Volume 7, Tome 3 (1852), p. 175.
Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 157.
Moths of Victoria - Part 8,
Night Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA(B),
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2017, pp. 1, 10-11, 18-19.
(updated 26 August 2011, 10 April 2017, 10 November 2020)