Euproctis melanosoma (Butler, 1882)
Black-bodied Browntail Moth
(one synonym : Porthesia mixta)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Euproctis melanosoma

This Caterpillar is easy to identify. It is black and hairy, with two bright red spots on its back (on abdominal segments six and seven). The red spots indicate the position of dorsal glands.

It eats the leaves and flowers of many garden plants and weeds including :

  • Choco ( Sechium edule, CUCURBITACEAE ),
  • Oak ( Quercus species, FAGACEAE ),
  • Geranium ( Pelargonium x zonale, GERANIACEAE ),
  • Wild Iris ( Dietes grandiflora, IRIDACEAE ),
  • Brush Box ( Lophostemon confertus, MYRTACEAE ),
  • Grasses ( POACEAE ),
  • Roses ( Rosa odorata, ROSACEAE ),
  • Grape Vine ( Vitis vinifera, VITACEAE ).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 3 cms.

    Euproctis melanosoma
    view from bottom of bottle of cocoon under a rose petal

    It pupates in thin brown cocoon under a leaf or petal of its foodplant.

    Euproctis melanosoma

    After about two weeks in summer, the adult moth emerges. It is white all over, except for its conspicuous black compound eyes, and some brown hairs along the hind margins of the forewings. The abdomen is often initially white, but often becomes black. The female has a yellow tuft on its tail.

    Euproctis melanosoma
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The scales on its wings are very loose, and rub off at the slightest handling. It has a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Euproctis melanosoma

    The female moth lays her eggs in long disorganised strings, and covers them in hairs from her tail.

    The species occurs in:

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • Tasmania.

    Further reading :

    Arthur G. Butler,
    On a Small Collection of Lepidoptera from Melbourne,
    The Annals and Magazine of Natural History; Zoology, Botany, and Geology,
    Fifth Series, Volume IX, No. 50 (1882), pp. 87-88, No. 14.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria: part 2,
    Tiger Moths and their Allies - Noctuoidea (A)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2009, pp. 16-19.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 2 August 2010, 25 November 2014)