Calcarifera ordinata (Butler, 1886)
Wattle Cup Caterpillar
(one synonym is : Doratiphora colligans T.P. Lucas, 1901)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Calcarifera ordinata
(Photo: courtesy of photographer Darren Jew)

These Caterpillars sting. The Caterpillars of this species look as though they carry their own TV antennas. They have two large branched spikes protruding from the front and four from the rear, and a series of smaller ones along each side. These all sting. The sting has been described as "worse than 3 wasp stings". The caterpillars are brightly coloured greenish-yellow, and have a red dorsal stripe with a broad blue edging, and a blue band with red patches along each side.

Calcarifera ordinata
(Photo: courtesy of Kell Nielsen, Gold Coast, Queensland)

They have been found feeding on :

  • Date Palms ( Phoenix Canariensis, ARECACEAE ),
  • various Wattles ( Acacia, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Dogwood ( Jacksonia scoparia, FABACEAE ),
  • Ribbon Pea ( Leptosema aphyllum, FABACEAE ),
  • Bird of Paradise ( Strelitzia reginae, MUSACEAE ),
  • Roses ( Rosa odorata, ROSACEAE ),
  • Orange Trees ( Citrus sinensis, RUTACEAE ),
  • Whitewood ( Atalaya Hemiglauca, SAPINDACEAE ), and.
  • Kurrajong ( Brachychiton populneus, STERCULIACEAE ).

    Calcarifera ordinata
    (Photo: courtesy of Kell Nielsen, Gold Coast, Queensland)

    The caterpillars have reduced legs, and locomote using a slug-like movement of the underside of the body.

    (Photo: courtesy of Kell Nielsen, Gold Coast, Queensland)

    The cocoon is formed on a leaf. It is spun out of silk in a small sphere, then covered in a liquid that sets like a tiny cricket ball.

    Calcarifera ordinata
    Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, from
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art

    The adult moth has cream forewings with black speckles and a row of brown dots parallel to the margin. The hindwings are pale brown. It has a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Calcarifera ordinata
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The species occurs in :

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales, and
  • South Australia.

    Further reading :

    Arthur G. Butler,
    Descriptions of Lepidoptera heterocera from the Australian Region,
    Transactions of the Entomological Society of London,
    1886, p. 388.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 8.8, pp. 301-302.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 104.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 28 May 2013, 6 January 2014, 10 April 2015, 13 August 2019, 13 March 2021)