The Tussock Moths are so-named because the Caterpillars of many members have four long dense dorsal tufts of hair. Many also have other hair pencils, and also two coloured dorsal glands on abdominal segments six and seven. These glands appear to exude a liquid which deters ants from attacking the caterpillars.
Many of the caterpillars are a pest for two reasons:
If you or your people in your family are sensitive, you will have to be vigilant and collect any larvae that you see into say a jam-jar for transport a long way away. Killing in situ or even burning them is hazardous as the hairs from the dead larvae can blow about and cause more inflammation.
The caterpillars usually pupate within a cocoon incorporating their larval hairs. These hairs can cause more problems if the cocoons are handled, or if they disintegrate and the hairs are released to blow about.
The adults are short lived because they have a reduced haustellum and do not feed. In some species the females are wingless. Many of the caterpillars are very colourful.
Some taxonomists changed the scientific names of many species in LYMANTRIINAE after detailed morphological studies, particularly by Jeremy Holloway, as published in his more recent book "Moths of Borneo" (1999).
The 75 named Australian named members of LYMANTRIINAE are included in:
Acyphas chionitis : White Tussock Moth
Acyphas semiochrea : Omnivorous Tussock Moth
Calliteara pura : Perfect Tussock Moth
Euproctis baliolalis : Browntail Gum Moth
Euproctis edwardsii : Mistletoe Browntail Moth
Euproctis limbalis : Bordered Browntail Moth
Euproctis marginalis : Margined Browntail Moth
Iropoca rotundata : Irapoca Moth
Leptocneria reducta : White Cedar Moth
Lymantria pelospila : Tropical Gypsy Moth
Oligeria hemicalla : Tiny Tussock Moth
Orgyia anartoides : Painted Apple Moth
Orgyia athlophora : Western Tussock Moth
Orgyia australis : Painted Pine Moth
(updated 15 December 2015, 18 March 2019, 25 September 2019, 13 August 2020, 16 April 2021)