Orgyia australis Walker, 1855
Painted Pine Moth
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Orgyia australis
(Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

This Caterpillar is usually brown and hairy, and with four dorsal tufts of white or yellow or brown hair on abdominal segments one to four, and two lateral white tufts each side from segments one and two also. The dorsal tuft colour seems to vary with the weather or the instar.

Orgyia australis
(Photo: courtesy of Harold McQueen, Goodna, Queensland)

The head is scarlet, with two knobbed black hair pencils each side. There is another grey hair pencil on the tail. The hairs can cause irritation (urticaria) in people who have sensitive skin.

The caterpillars have been found feeding on a variety of plants including:

  • Blueberry ( Vaccinium corymbosum, ERICACEAE ),
  • Tagasaste ( Chamaecytisus palmensis, FABACEAE ),
  • Pelargoniums ( Pelargonium species, GERANIACEAE ),
  • various Wattles ( Acacia species, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Monterey Pine ( Pinus radiata, PINACEAE ),
  • River Mangrove ( Aegiceras corniculatum, PRIMULACEAE ),
  • Spider Flowers ( Grevillea species, PROTEACEAE ), and
  • flowers of Camellia ( Camellia japonica, THEACEAE ).

    Orgyia australis
    (Photo: courtesy of Evan Harris, Ipswich, Queensland)

    The caterpillars usually pupate in an off-white cocoon amongst the leaves of the foodplant.

    Orgyia australis
    (Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, Kuranda, Queensland)

    The male has brown patterned forewings, each with a complex spot near the middle, and variable white areas.

    Orgyia australis
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian Barrett, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The hindwings are plain brown.

    Orgyia australis
    male, showing hindwing
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian Barrett, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The undersides of the wings of the male are brown bearing shadows of the upper suface patterns. The wingspan of the male is about 3 cms.

    Orgyia australis
    male underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian Barrett, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The female is flightless, and her bulbous body covered in pale grey-brown hair.

    Orgyia australis
    female: drawing by Embrik Strand

    in Adalbert Seitz (ed.): The Macrolepidoptera of the World,
    Stuttgart : Alfred Kernen Verlag, Volume 10 (1933), Plate 42, fig i5,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Natural History Museum Library, London.

    The species has been found in :

  • the north of India,

    as well as in Australia in

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

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 43.7, pl. 30.10, p. 428.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 111.

    Embrik Strand,
    Pantana - Laelia,
    in Adalbert Seitz (ed.):
    The Macrolepidoptera of the World,
    Stuttgart : Alfred Kernen Verlag, Volume 10 (1933), p. 304, and also Plate 42, fig i5.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 4 (1855), p. 787, No. 16.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 28 February 2012, 26 August 2017, 27 February 2019)