Crypsiphona ocultaria (Donovan, 1805)
Red-lined Geometrid
(erroneously : Phalaena occultaria Guenée, 1857)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Crypsiphona ocultaria
(Photo: courtesy of Amy Prendergast, Perth, Western Australia)

The Caterpillar is green, tapering to a point at the front and a fork at the rear. A pale red-edged yellow lateral line extends each side from the tip of the head to the tip of the tail.

The caterpillar rests with its true legs tucked forwards around its mouth parts, so that its head capsule is almost hidden.

Crypsiphona ocultaria
close up of head with legs extended for walking
(Photo: courtesy of Amy Prendergast, Perth, Western Australia)

The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus and Angophora species, MYRTACEAE ).

    To feed, the first instar bends over the leaf and eats the surface layer. Later instars eat the whole leaf from the edge inwards. The Caterpillar moves very little, clinging to the same position on the same leaf for several days at a time. When it does move, mouth parts and legs separate and point downwards. This makes the projection behind the head point upwards, like a conical hat.

    Crypsiphona ocultaria
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The Caterpillar looks pretty as it 'tip toes' along a leaf: first the front end moves ahead, then the rear end loops forward to join it. When disturbed, the Caterpillar stands out stiffly like a twig. standing on its anal prolegs and the single pair of ventral prolegs. This is fine if it is on a twig, but is conspicuous when it happens to be on the edge of a leaf. Perhaps their normal predators are too silly to notice.

    Crypsiphona ocultaria
    (Photo: courtesy of Amy Prendergast, Perth, Western Australia)

    In captivity the Caterpillars pupated four weeks after hatching from the egg. The pupa was formed in the soil. The adult moths emerged two weeks after pupation in February in Melbourne.

    Crypsiphona ocultaria
    newly emerged adult moth with empty pupal case
    (Photo: courtesy of Amy Prendergast, Perth, Western Australia)

    The adult is surprising. Its upper surfaces are a dull grey marked with dark transverse wavy bands.

    Crypsiphona ocultaria
    adult moth trying to read the time on a ladies wristwatch
    (Photo: courtesy of Ted Cadwallader, Swan Hill, Victoria)

    But the undersides are strikingly patterned. They are pale grey, with black submarginal bands, bordered on the inside with red, and the fore wings each have a large black spot and an orange patch. The moth usually rests with its wings outspread. It has a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, Upper Burnett, Queensland)

    The eggs of this species are ovoid and green. They are laid irregularly along the edge of a leaf of the foodplant. They take about five days to hatch in captivity.

    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, Upper Burnett, Queensland)

    The species is found over much of Australia, including:

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

    Further reading :

    David Carter,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 195.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 37.12, p. 372.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 43.

    Edward Donovan,
    General Illustration of Entomology,
    An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans,
    London (1803), p. 164, and also Plate, p. 162.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria: Part 4,
    Emeralds and Allies - GEOMETROIDEA (B)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2012, pp. 30-31.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 139.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 29 June 2013, 30 May 2014)