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

Early instars have coloured lateral hairs, but later instars have white hairs.

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

Specimens have been observed eating the leaves of :

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

    Calliteara pura

    The caterpillar pupates under a leaf 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. It has a wingspan of about 6 cms.

    Calliteara pura

    The male has more pronounced brown lines, and has orange hind wings with dark margins. The male has a span of about 4 cms. The undersides show a black dot in the middle of each wing.

    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

    The species has been taken in

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

    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)