Caterpillars of
Australian Moths
 

  
moth

pupae
  
moth

adults
  
moth

undersides
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Most of the Caterpillars which we have found are the larvae of moths. Moths far outnumber butterflies both in numbers and species. In Australia, there are over 10,000 named species of moths compared with only about 416 species of butterflies. Added to this, many moths have yet to be collected and named, whereas very few butterfly species remain to be discovered in Australia.

The common names of many moths are derived from the behaviour and appearance of their caterpillars. This situation is unlike that for butterflies, the common names for which are usually derived from the adult forms. The difference stems from the fact that common names are given by ordinary people and are handed down by generations. Butterflies fly mainly by day, whereas moth adults fly mainly at night. Also, moth caterpillars are often made conspicuous by the damage they do to plants, as the caterpillars of many moth species are important agricultural pests. Thus the stage of moth development that is most often encountered by ordinary people by day is the caterpillar.

Actually, very few Australian moths have English common names, as there have been only 200 years or so of English settlement in Australia. Even the moth families are usually referred to by derivatives of their scientific names in Australia. The situation is very different from that in Europe and America where most common moth species have common names. In these pages, we give many of the European and American names out of deference to overseas visitors to our pages.

MOTH FAMILIES WITH SOME CATERPILLAR PHOTOS

AGANAIDAE
Tropical Tiger Moths
ANTHELIDAE
Australian Woolly Bears
ARCTIIDAE
Footmen, Woolly Bears, Tiger Moths
BOMBYCIDAE
Silkworms
BUCCULATRICIDAE
Flat Moths
CASTNIIDAE
Sun Moths
CHOREUTIDAE
Metalmark Moths
COSMOPTERIGIDAE
Seed Borers
COSSIDAE
Witchetty Grubs, Borers, Goat Moths
CRAMBIDAE
Webworms, Shoot Borers
DEPRESSARIIDAE
Flat-Bodied Moths
EPERMENIIDAE
Fringe-tufted Moths
ETHMIIDAE
Black-spotted Moths
EUPTEROTIDAE
Monkey Moths
GELECHIIDAE
Twirler Moths
GEOMETRIDAE
Inchworms, Carpets, Emeralds, Waves
GRACILLARIIDAE
Leaf Miners, Stem Borers
HEPIALIDAE
Ghost & Swift Moths
HYPERTROPHIDAE
Twig Moths
HYBLAEIDAE
Teak Moths
LACTURIDAE
Lactura Group
LASIOCAMPIDAE
Lappet & Snout Moths
LIMACODIDAE
Cup & Slug Moths
LYMANTRIIDAE
Tussock Moths
NOCTUIDAE
Cutworms, Underwings

NOLIDAE
Hatted Caterpillars
NOTODONTIDAE
Prominents, Bag Shelter Moths,
Processionary Caterpillars
OECOPHORIDAE
Concealer Moths
OENOSANDRIDAE
Snub Moths
PLUTELLIDAE
Diamondback Moths
PSYCHIDAE
Bag & Case Moths
PTEROPHORIDAE
Plume Moths
PYRALIDAE
Snout, Frass, Meal, & Flour Moths
SATURNIIDAE
Emperor Moths
SESIIDAE
Clear Wings
SPHINGIDAE
Hawk Moths
TINEIDAE
Clothes Moths
TORTRICIDAE
Leaf Rollers, Bell Moths
URANIIDAE
Swallowtail Moths
XYLORYCTIDAE
Timber Moths
ZYGAENIDAE
Foresters, Burnet Moths



Some unidentified Australian Caterpillars

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(updated 19 November 2012, 31 August 2014)