Xanthodes transversa Guenée, 1852
(one synonym : Trileuca dentalis Smith, 1891)
CHLOEPHORINAE,   NOLIDAE,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Xanthodes transversa
early instar,
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Bundaberg, Queensland)

The Caterpillars of this species are a puzzle. Some are green and hairy.

Xanthodes transversa
(Photo: courtesy of Jutta Godwin, Cubberla-Witton Catchments Network, Brisbane, Queensland)

Some have a yellow stripe along the back and along each side, and black splodges on each segment, and a red spot on the tail, which perhaps distracts predators away from the vulnerable head.

Xanthodes transversa
(Photo: courtesy of Jutta Godwin, Cubberla-Witton Catchments Network, Brisbane, Queensland)

Some are green with white and yellow spots. Some are brown with yellow spots.

Xanthodes transversa
(Photo: courtesy of Maria Rosenfelder, Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland)

The answer is that successive instars of the caterpillars have somewhat different colour patterns.

The caterpillars have been found feeding on the leaves of various plants in the Hibiscus family ( MALVACEAE ) :

  • Cranberry Hibiscus ( Hibiscus acetosella ),
  • Australian Rosella ( Hibiscus heterophyllus ),
  • Garden Hibicus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ),
  • Holyhock Tree ( Hibiscus splendens ),
  • Turk's Hat ( Malvaviscus arboreus ),
  • Spearleaf Swampmallow ( Pavonia hastata ), and
  • Caesarweed ( Urena lobata ).

    Xanthodes transversa
    showing two different instars on the same bush
    (Photo: courtesy of Arthur Stafford, taken near Biarra, Queensland)

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 4 cms.

    Xanthodes transversa
    (Photo: courtesy of Jutta Godwin, Cubberla-Witton Catchments Network, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The adult moths are yellow, with three brown arrow-shaped lines across each forewing. They have a wingspan of about 4 cms.

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

    The species is found across south-east Asia including

  • Hong Kong,
  • India,
  • Japan,
  • Java,
  • New Guinea,

    and in Australia in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Xanthodes transversa
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 48.1, p. 457.

    Achille Guenée, in Boisduval & Guenée,
    Ommatophoridae,
    Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
    Volume 6 (1852), p. 211, No. 978.


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    (updated 27 August 2012, 18 November 2018, 24 August 2019, 12 April 2020)