Calliteara pura (T.P. Lucas, 1892)
Perfect Tussock Moth
(previously known as Teara pura)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Calliteara pura
(Photo: courtesy of David & Judy Addleton, Kempsey, New South Wales)

This Caterpillar is brown or yellow, with a pale orange head, and is covered in long hairs, including four white tussocks, one on the back of each of the first four abdominal segments.

Calliteara pura
first instar, magnified, walking on eggshells
(Photo: courtesy of Peter Kuttner, Tamborine Mountain, Queensland)

Early instars are black with brown or yellow lateral hairs, but later instars have white hairs.

Calliteara pura
caterpillar that has just moulted from having yellow hairs to having white hairs
(Photo: courtesy of Joe Taranto, Sydney, New South Wales)

Specimens have been observed eating the leaves of :

  • Gymea lily ( Doryanthes excelsa, AMARYLLIDACEAE ),
  • Begonia (Begonia species, BEGONIACEAE ),
  • Blueberry ( Vaccinium cyanococcus, ERICACEAE ),
  • Great Magnolia ( Magnolia grandiflora, MAGNOLIACEAE ),
  • Bird of Paradise ( Strelitzia reginae, MUSACEAE ),
  • Water Gum ( Tristaniopsis laurina, MYRTACEAE ), and
  • Roses ( Rosa odorata, ROSACEAE ).

    Calliteara pura

    By day, the caterpillar live in a shelter composed of joined leaves.

    Calliteara pura
    (Photo: courtesy of Brenda Martin, Pambula, New South Wales)

    The caterpillar pupates under a leaf or in its shelter in a voluminous loose cocoon containing the discarded larval skin and many larval hairs.

    Calliteara pura

    The adult female moth is white, with a pattern of broken thin brown lines on the forewings. She has white hindwings. Her wingspan is about 6 cms.

    Calliteara pura

    The male is similar, but with brown areas in the outer halves of the forewings, and has orange hind wings with dark margins. The male has a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    Calliteara pura
    (Photo: courtesy of Marilyn Hewish, Moths of Victoria: part 2, update 53)

    The undersides show a black dot in the middle of each wing.

    The species has been found in

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

    Calliteara pura
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    Our female specimen laid about 200 eggs on the cocoon. They were pale yellow and shaped like a doughnut, with a diameter of about 0.5 mm.

    Calliteara pura

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 55.5, p. 428.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    On 34 new species of Australian Lepidoptera, with additional localities,
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland,
    Volume 8 (1892), p. 75.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria: part 2,
    Tiger Moths and their Allies - Noctuoidea (A)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2009, pp. 18-19.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 14 April 2011, 8 January 2019, 28 October 2020, 27 January 2021, 24 January 2022)