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.
It has been recommended that the scientific names of many species in LYMANTRIIDAE be changed after detailed morphological studies, particularly by Jeremy Holloway and published in his more recent book "Moths of Borneo" (1999). However, here we are still using the older names from the "Checklist of the Lepidoptera of Australia" (1996)
The 75 named Australian named members of LYMANTRIIDAE are included in:
Calliteara pura : Perfect Tussock Moth
Iropoca rotundata : Irapoca Moth
Leptocneria reducta : White Cedar Moth
Oligeria hemicalla : Tiny Tussock Moth
Orvasca semifusca : Coastal Browntail Moth
Teia anartoides : Painted Apple Moth
Urocoma baliolalis : Browntail Gum Moth
Urocoma limbalis : Bordered Browntail Moth
Urocoma marginalis : Margined Browntail Moth
Some undetermined Lymantriid caterpillars are
(updated 15 December 2015, 19 February 2017)