Panacela lewinae (Lewin, 1805)
Lewin's Bag Shelter Moth
(one synonym : Semuta pristina Walker, 1865)
PANACELINAE,   EUPTEROTIDAE,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Panacela lewinae
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

These Caterpillars are hairy and brown, with a yellow zig-zag line along each side, and with a dark head capsule. The hairs can cause iritation if they contact the skin (Urticaria). The Caterpillars live communally in a shelter on their food plant, made of leaves joined by silk. They hide in the shelter by day, coming out to feed at night. If disturbed, they make a scraping sound inside their shelter.

Panacela lewinae
(Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

They feed on the introduced:

  • Tagasaste ( Chamaecytisus prolifer, FABACEAE ),
  • Monterey Pine ( Pinus radiata, PINACEAE ),

    and the Australian natives:

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus species, MYRTACEAE ),
  • Turpentine ( Syncarpia glomulifera, MYRTACEAE ), and
  • Native Cherry ( Exocarpus cupressiformis, SANTALACEAE ).

    Panacela lewinae
    cocoon
    drawing by John William Lewin, listed as Bombyx lewinae
    ,
    Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales,
    Prodromus Entomology, London : T. Bensley (1805), Plate 6,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library,
    digitized by Cornell University Library.

    The caterpillar pupates in a dark cocoon in a curled leaf on its foodplant.

    Panacela lewinae
    male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The adult moths are dimorphic. The male is light brown with a dark band across each forewing. He has a tendency to rest with his head down and his tail up.

    Panacela lewinae
    female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The females are a uniform dark brown, and have a large tuft of hair on the tail. The males and females both have a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Panacela lewinae
    underside
    drawing by John William Lewin, listed as Bombyx lewinae
    ,
    Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales,
    Prodromus Entomology, London : T. Bensley (1805), Plate 6,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library,
    digitized by Cornell University Library.

    The species occurs in the subtropical east of Australia, including

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.


    Further reading :

    David Carter,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 211.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 14,11,14.13, pp. 67,69,399.

    Peter Hendry,
    At the light trap,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Newsletter Issue 45 (June 2007), pp. 18-22.

    Peter Hendry,
    Saturday 28th November 2009,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 56 (March 2010), pp. 32-33,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    John William Lewin,
    Prodromus Entomology,
    Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales,
    London : T. Bensley (1805), p. 7, and also Plate 6.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 24-25.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 55.

    Paul Zborowsky and Ted Edwards
    A Guide To Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2007, pp. 158,177.


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    (updated 7 April 2013, 2 June 2017)