Pararguda nasuta (Lewin, 1805)
Wattle Snout Moth
(sometimes mistaken for Paraguda australasiae)
LASIOCAMPINAE,   LASIOCAMPIDAE,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Pararguda nasuta
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

The eggs of this species are oval and pale blue when laid, becoming white as they dry. They have a diameter of about 0.5 mm. They are laid in a row along a twig of a foodplant.

Pararguda nasuta
(Photo courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

This Caterpillar is a velvety green or brown, with variable dorsal markings, a dark inverted 'V' on the head, and a reddish knob on the tail. By day the caterpillar is inclined to rest flat against the the underside of the midrib of a leaf, or of a twig, of the foodplant. The hairs along the body disguise the legs, and the knob on the tail looks like a broken off wattle twig.

Pararguda nasuta
(Photo courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

If disturbed, the caterpillar curls the front part of the body revealing two black bands between the thoracic segments.

Pararguda nasuta
(Photo courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

The caterpillar has been found feeding on various plants:

  • Wattles ( Acacia, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Native Cherry ( Exocarpus cupressiformis, SANTALACEAE ), and
  • Monterey Pine ( Pinus radiata, PINACEAE ).

    Pararguda nasuta
    late instar
    (Photo courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 6 cms. They often are brown in the last instar with a black head.

    Pararguda nasuta
    drawing by John William Lewin, listed as Bombyx nasuta,

    Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales,
    Prodromus Entomology (1805), Plate 5,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Cornell University Library.

    The caterpillar underside is white with a prominent black spot under each segment. The prolegs are yellow with pale feet.

    Pararguda nasuta
    showing caterpillar underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Alison Milton, Umbagong, Australian Capital Territory)

    The caterpillars pupate in a silky white cocoon between the leaves of the foodplant or in a neighbouring crevice. The cocoon has a length of about 2 cms. Metamorphosis can take as little as two weeks, before the adult moth emerges.

    Pararguda nasuta
    cocoon
    (Specimen: courtesy of Margaret Humphrey, Turra Murra, New South Wales)

    The adults are brown, with a faint dark spot, two wavy dark lines, and a subterminal row of dots on each forewing, They also have a long pair of labial palps , which are held forward to look like a long nose.

    Pararguda nasuta
    male
    (Specimen: courtesy of Margaret Humphrey, Turra Murra, New South Wales)

    The males and females are different sizes and have differently shaped wings. The males have wings with straighter forewing costas. The males also have more feathery antennae. There are always more males to be found at lights than females. The males have a wingspan of about 3 cms. The females have a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    Pararguda nasuta
    female
    (Specimen: courtesy of Margaret Humphrey, Turra Murra, New South Wales)

    The species is found in eastern Australia, including:

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

    The species is widespread in Victoria, where adults may be found thoughout the year.

    Pararguda nasuta
    male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    There is considerable variation amongst specimens of this species, so it is probably a species complex, and should be divided into two or more distinct species.

    Pararguda nasuta
    male, drawing by John William Lewin, listed as Bombyx nasuta,

    Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales,
    Prodromus Entomology (1805), Plate 5,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Cornell University Library.

    A specimen originally thought to be this species was collected on Cook's voyage, and previously had been assumed to have been taken at Botany Bay. Later examination of the label showed it was taken in the north. That northern species is now called Pararguda australasiae.

    Pararguda nasuta
    side view

    Pararguda nasuta
    underside
    (Photos: courtesy of John Bromilow, Ainslie, Australian Capital Territory)


    Further reading :

    David Carter,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 205.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 389.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 55.

    John William Lewin,
    Prodromus Entomology,
    Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales,
    London : T. Bensley (1805), p. 6, and Plate 5.

    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. 91.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 6-9.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 5.


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    (updated 6 April 2013, 18 September 2013, 19 February 2015, 28 December 2017, 19 April 2018, 11 October 2020, 21 March 2021)