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
(Photo: courtesy of Elaine McDonald, Nicholls Rivulet, Tasmania)

This is a grey and brown, hairy Caterpillar with an interrupted white doral line, two small black knobs on the back of each segment, and a black tuft of hairs on the back of first and last abdominal segments. The thorax has black dorsal markings The lateral hairs hang down camouflaging the prolegs. The head is large, and looks as though it has a white nose and speckled black and white cheeks.

Pernattia pusilla
(Photo: courtesy of Elaine McDonald, Mt Wellington, Tasmania)

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
    close-up of head
    (Photo: courtesy of Wendy McFarlane, Old Erowal Bay, New South Wales)

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

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

    It pupates on its foodplant in a white cocoon sparsely decorated with hairs from the caterpillar's body.

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

    The male and female adult moths are very different.

    Pernattia pusilla
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Elaine McDonald, Nicholls Rivulet, Tasmania)

    The females are grey, stout, and slow, with forewings each traversed by three zigzag dark lines. The females have a wingspan of about 3 cms.

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

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

    Pernattia pusilla
    male adult
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

    The species occurs in coastal areas of Australia, including:

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

    Pernattia pusilla
    female adult
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

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

    Pernattia pusilla
    female laying eggs
    (Photo: courtesy of Lorraine Jenkins, Port Lincoln, South Australia)


    Further reading :

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

    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), Part 1, p. 159, and also Plate on p. 158.

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

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 101.


    previous
    back
    caterpillar
    Australian
    Australian Butterflies
    butterflies
    Australian
    home
    caterpillars
    Australian
    Australian Moths
    moths
    next
    next
    caterpillar

    (updated 24 August 2012, 6 December 2017)