Chlenias banksiaria (Le Guillou, 1841)
(one synonym is : Cleophana australasiae Wallengren, 1860)
Don Herbison-Evans
Dave Britton & Stella Crossley

Chlenias banksiaria
early instar, magnified
(Photo: copyright Cathy Byrne)

Early instars of this Caterpillar are grey or black, with a thin pale mid-dorsal line, a broad pale line along each side, and have a grey head with two dark line down the middle, and one each side.

Chlenias banksiaria
later instar
(Photo: courtesy of Hsueh Wen, Manjimup, Western Australia)

In the final instar, the dark areas resolve into four broad dark stripes separated by narrow white stripes, which meet dorsally and ventrally at a central narrow pale stripe. Each broad stripe is black, and contains three irregular broken white lines. Each narrow pale stripe is punctuated with yellow or orange patches. The head capsule is off-white with black or brown speckles. The true legs are red and there is a red mark just above each penultimate proleg.

Chlenias banksiaria
final instar
(Photo: courtesy of Robin Sharp, Korong Vale, Victoria)

This species has been recorded as feeding on many species of unrelated plants, and has adapted to feeding on the introduced

  • Peruvian Pepper (Schinus molle, ANACARDIACEAE),
  • Shiny Cassinia (Cassinia longifolia, ASTERACEAE), and
  • Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata, PINACEAE).

    Chlenias banksiaria
    pupa in cocoon
    (Photo: courtesy of David Akers, Won Wron, Victoria)

    The caterpillars pupate in a sparse cocoon in the ground litter.

    Chlenias banksiaria
    (Photo: courtesy of Donald Hobern, Aranda, Australian Capital Territory)

    The adult moths have grey forewings, with variable dark markings, often including some short dark lines on the veins near the margin, and a long dark line running parallel to the hind margin. The hindwings are plain grey.

    Chlenias banksiaria
    (Photo: copyright Dave Britton)

    The species occurs in:

  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Chlenias banksiaria
    (Photo: copyright Dave Britton)

    The adult moths of the various species in the genus Chlenias are all very variable, and appear to be more variable than the variations between the species. The identification of the specimens pictured here may prove to be wrong when more work is done on this genus.

    Chlenias banksiaria
    (Photo: courtesy of Donald Hobern, Aranda, Australian Capital Territory)

    Further reading :

    Marilyn Hewish,
    Moths of Victoria: Part 5 - Satin Moths and Allies - GEOMETROIDEA (A),
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2014, pp. 22-23.

    Elie Jean Francois Le Guillou,
    Description de huit espèces de Lépidoptères découvertes pendant le voyage de la Zélee,
    Revue Zoologique par la Societe Cuvierienne,
    Paris, 1841, p. 257, No. 6.

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), pp. 120-121.

    Catherine J. Young,
    Characterisation of the Australian Nacophorini and a Phylogeny for the Geometridae from Molecular and Morphological Data,
    Ph.D. thesis, University of Tasmania, 2003.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 25 October 2010, 18 October 2023)