(erroneously : Phalaena occultaria Guenée, 1857)
GEOMETRINAE, GEOMETRIDAE, GEOMETROIDEA
(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.
The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of
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.
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.
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.
The adult is unsurprising. Its upper surfaces are a dull grey marked with dark irregular lines.
But the undersides are strikingly patterned. They are pale grey, with black submarginal bands, bordered on the inside with red, and the forewings each have a large black spot and an orange patch.
The males have comb-like antennae. The females have thread-like antennae. The moths usually rests with their wings outspread. The moths have a wingspan of about 4 cms.
The eggs of this species are ovoid and green, and minutely pitted. They are laid irregularly along the edge of a leaf of the foodplant. They take about five days to hatch in captivity.
The species is found over much of Australia, including:
Further reading :
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,
New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 43.
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 B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 138.
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.
(updated 29 June 2013, 18 June 2018, 12 November 2019, 9 October 2020, 21 January 2021)