Dichomeris capnites (Meyrick, 1904)
Autumn Cluster Moth
(previously known as Ypsolophus capnites)
DICHOMERIDINAE,   GELECHIIDAE,   GELECHIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of Mark Korner, Churchill, Queensland)

These Caterpillars are white with several wiggly black lines along the body. The head and prothorax are black, and the last segment orange. The caterpillar lives in a silk shelter spun on the upper surface of a foodplant leaf.


caterpillar in its shelter
(Photo: courtesy of Mark Korner, Churchill, Queensland)

The caterpillar is thought to feed on the leaves of :

  • Smell-of-the-bed ( Mallotus claoxyloides, EUPHORBIACEAE ),
  • Weeping Lilli-pilli ( Waterhousea floribunda, MYRTACEAE ), and
  • Lemon Aspen ( Acronychia species, RUTACEAE ).


    pupae
    (Photo: courtesy of Mark Korner, Churchill, Queensland)

    The caterpillar pupates in its shelter. The pupa is brown with a length of about 1 cm.


    (Photo: courtesy of Mark Korner, Churchill, Queensland)

    The adult moths have dark grey or brown forewings, each with several vague dark spots. The hindwings are plain brown and trapezoidal. The wingspan is about 2 cms.


    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

    The species has been found in

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales, and
  • , South Australia


    (Photo: by Jeff Wright, courtesy of Chris Burwell, Queensland Museum).

    The moths are noted for congregating in enormous numbers in some areas in autumn (March, April), closely covering plant leaves like tiles on a roof.


    (Photo: by Jeff Wright, courtesy of Chris Burwell, Queensland Museum).


    Further reading :

    Chris J. Burwell and Susan G. Wright,
    Autumn aggregations of Dichomeris capnites (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)
    News Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Queensland,
    Volume 32, Issue 4 (2004), pp. 90-92.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 25.7, p. 259.

    Edward Meyrick,
    Descriptions of Australian Micro-Lepidoptera: XVIII: Gelechiadae,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Volume 29, Part 2 (1904), p. 435, No. 273.

    Chris Wiley,
    Mystery of the Autumn Cluster Moth Solved,
    Blog: March 25, 2020.


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    (updated 23 January 2006, 12 January 2013, 29 March 2019, 3 September 2020, 27 April 2022)