Aenetus splendens (Scott, 1864)
(previously known as Phloiopsyche splendens)
HEPIALIDAE,   HEPIALOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Aenetus splendens
drawing by Harriet Scott, listed as Phloiopsyche splendens
,
Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), Plate II,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

These Caterpillars are off-white, with a dark brown hairy head, and a brown thorax. The back of each abdominal segment has two pale brown dashes. The caterpilars bore into the stems and branches of :

  • Pitanga ( Eugenia, MYRTACEAE ),
  • Black Wattle ( Callicoma serratifolia, CUNONIACEAE ),
  • Peach Poison Bush ( Trema aspera, ULMACEAE ), and
  • She Oak ( Casuarina, CASUARINACEAE ).

    Aenetus splendens
    pupa, drawing by Harriet Scott, listed as Phloiopsyche splendens
    ,
    Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), Plate II,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

    The caterpillar covers the end of the tunnel with silk and debris. It pupates in its tunnel, and partly extrudes the pupa before the adult emerges.

    Aenetus splendens
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Margherita Standing, Boambee, New South Wales)

    The male adult moth has green forewings, each with one or more white diagonal bars, and a white patch on the hind margin. The hindwings are a shiny pale grey colour. The moth has an extraorinary natural posture, with the head bent down and the tail bent up, and the wings folded down below the body. The male moth has a wingspan of about 5 cms.

    Aenetus splendens
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Ethan Beaver, Afterlee, New South Wales)

    The female adult moths differ from the male moths. The females are larger and have green forewings with variable rusty-brown markings, and rusty-brown hindwings. The females have a wingspan of about 7 cms.

    The species occurs in eastern Australia in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Aenetus splendens
    drawing by by E.H. Zeck, erroneously listed as Charaga eximus,

    in Walter W. Froggatt: Forest insects of Australia, Sydney 1923, Frontispiece, fig. 2,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by NCSU Libraries.


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 2.14, 2.15, pp. 147-148.

    Walter W. Froggatt,
    The Giant Wood Moth,
    Forest insects of Australia,
    Sydney 1923, Frontispiece, figs. 2, 2a.

    Harriet, Helena, and Alexander W. Scott,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations,
    Australian Lepidoptera,
    Volume 1 (1864), pp. 6-7, and also Plate 2.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 40.


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    (updated 22 October 2010, 27 February 2017, 2 January 2018, 31 January 2019)