Cyclotorna experta Meyrick, 1912
CYCLOTORNIDAE ,   ZYGAENOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Cyclotorna experta
early larva, black and white line drawing by H. Knight
,
in Dodds & Meyrick: 'Some remarkable ant-friend Lepidoptera of Queensland',
Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, 1911, Plate XLVIII, fig. 12,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

The caterpillars of this species are carnivorous. The caterpillars are red, flat and segmented, and look like woodlice. The early instars feed on

  • Leaf Hoppers ( CICADELLIDAE ).

    The caterpillars then form a first cocoon.

    The later instars emerge after a few days, and are taken by

  • Meat Ants ( Iridomyrmex purpureus, FORMICIDAE ),

    into the Ants' nest, where the caterpillars feed on the ant larvae. The mature caterpillars leave the ant nest to form a cocoon and pupate in a crevice nearby.

    Cyclotorna experta
    final cocoon with partly extruded pupal skin, black and white line drawing by H. Knight
    ,
    in Dodds & Meyrick: 'Some remarkable ant-friend Lepidoptera of Queensland',
    Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, 1911, Plate XLVIII, fig 14,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    The caterpillars are thought to emit a kairomone that induces ants to take the caterpillars into the ants' nest.

    Cyclotorna experta
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Jenkins, Natural History Museum, London)

    Adult moths have dark brown wings, with a two dark spots and a dark dash on each forewing. The wingspan is about 2 cms.

    Cyclotorna experta
    black and white line drawing by H. Knight
    ,
    in Dodds & Meyrick: 'Some remarkable ant-friend Lepidoptera of Queensland',
    Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, 1911, Plate XLVIII, fig 15,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    The species has been found in Australia in

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.


    Further reading :

    Edward Meyrick,
    Supplement to F.P. Dodds' Some remarkable ant-friend Lepidoptera of Queensland,
    Transactions of the Entomological Society of London,
    1911, pp. 589-590 and also Plate 48, figs. 12-15.


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    (written 2 April 2017)