Pernattia pusilla (Donovan, 1805)
She-Oak Moth
(one synonym is: Perna exposita Lewin, 1805)
GASTROPACHINAE ,   LASIOCAMPIDAE ,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
( donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Pernattia pusilla
first instar
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

This is a brown, hairy Caterpillar with two small red knobs on the back of each segment, and a black tuft of hairs on the back of first and last abdominal segments. The first segment also has a white tuft each side. The hairs on the other segments hang down camouflaging the prolegs. The prothorax is pink. The head is large and speckled in black and white.

Pernattia pusilla
later instar
(Photo: courtesy of John Behrens, Asquith Girls High School, NSW)

It feeds on various species of She-Oak ( CASUARINACEAE ), including :

  • Black She-Oak ( Allocasuarina litoralis ),
  • Drooping She-Oak ( Allocasuarina verticillata )
  • River She-Oak ( Casuarina cunninghamiana ),
  • Swamp She-Oak ( Casuarina glauca ), and
  • Australian Pine ( Casuarina equisetifolia ).

    Pernattia pusilla
    late instar
    (Photo: courtesy of Nick Monaghan, Tewantin, Queensland)

    When disturbed, the Caterpillar lets go, and drops to the ground. It grows to a length of about 3 cms.

    Pernattia pusilla
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    It pupates in a cocoon on the foodplant.

    Pernattia pusilla
    female adult
    (Photo : courtesy of Lorraine Jenkins, Port Lincoln Junior Primary School, South Australia)

    The male and female adult moths are very different. The females are stout and slow, with a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Pernattia pusilla
    male adult
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The males are smaller (wingspan about 2 cms.), have a more contrasting wing pattern, and fly faster.

    Pernattia pusilla
    male adult
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Victoria)

    The species occurs along the coast of eastern Australia, including:

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

    Pernattia pusilla
    female adult
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Victoria)

    The eggs are oval and white with a dark spot. They are laid in irregular open groups on leaves of a food tree.

    Pernattia pusilla


    Further reading :

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours, New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 59.

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


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    (updated 24 August 2012, 18 September 2013)