Dasypodia selenophora (Guenée, 1852)
Southern Old Lady Moth
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

early instar
(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.

caterpillar lying along the underside of a stem of its foodplant
(Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley)

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.

showing dark spots on underside of caterpillar
(Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)

Caterpillars of this species have been found feeding on

  • a variety of Wattles ( Acacia species, MIMOSACEAE ).

    (Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The caterpillar is attacked by various predators and parasites.

    Dasypodia selenophora caterpillar being eaten by a Huntsman Spider:
    Isopedella victorialis ( SPARASSIDAE)
    (Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne)

    The caterpillar matures in about three weeks in summer, and grows to a length of about 7 cms.

    A pair of cocoons on a curled leaf
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    It pupates sometimes in a cocoon, sometimes in the leaf litter or under the bark.

    post-emergence pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)

    One specimen had a pupal duration of 19 days in summer in Melbourne.

    (Photo: courtesy of Kim and Glenn)

    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.

    (Photo: courtesy of Robin Sharp, Korong Vale, Victoria)

    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.

    (Photo: courtesy of John Moore, Karratha, Western Australia)

    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

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • Norfolk Island,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia,
    and also:
  • Macquarie Island in the Antarctic, and
  • New Zealand.

    close-up of left forewing eyespot
    (Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith, at Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 46.2, pp. 55, 451.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 70.

    Achille Guenée,
    in Boisduval & Guenée :
    Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
    Volume 7, Tome 3 (1852), p. 175.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 8,
    Night Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA(B)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2017, pp. 1, 10-11, 18-19.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 26 August 2011, 10 April 2017)