Urocoma baliolalis Swinhoe, 1892
Browntail Gum Moth
(previously known as : Euproctis baliolalis)
LYMANTRIIDAE ,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Urocoma baliolalis

These Caterpillars initially are gregarious, feeding only on the surface layer of leaves of their food plant. They feed nocturnally on the foliage of

  • Gum Trees (Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE),

    The markings on the Caterpillar give it a rich tapestry-look. The thorax is red and bears long white hairs which project forward to its head. More white hairs form a skirt around the whole ventral surface of the body. Thick tussocks of black hair occur on its back, on abdominal segments one, two,seven and eight. A pair of doral glands is visible on segments six and seven. An intricate pattern along the back is composed of short white, red, and grey hairs.

    Urocoma baliolalis

    Its hairs can cause skin irritation in sensitive people ( urticaria ) if the Caterpillar is handled, particularly just prior to pupation. The Caterpillar grows to a length of about 4 cms.

    It wanders about for some days before pupating between Gum leaves in a woven cocoon under the bark. The hairs on the cocoon can also cause urticaria.

    Urocoma baliolalis
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The adult moths are hairy and brown, with a broad white band along the terminal area of each wing, and a dark brown body. They have a wingspan up to 5 cms.

    Urocoma baliolalis
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley)

    The females lay their eggs in a pile of about 20, and cover them with brown hairs.

    Urocoma baliolalis

    The species is found over most of the south-east quarter of Australia, including:

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


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 43.10, p. 429.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours, New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 64.

    Peter Marriott ,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 2, Tiger Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA (A) ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2009, pp. 16-19.


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    (updated 22 April 2011, 11 February 2014)