Paralaea beggaria (Guenée, 1857)
Peppermint Looper
(one synonym : Anochthera indistincta Goldfinch, 1944)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Paralaea beggaria
(Photo: courtesy of Marilyn Hewish, Moths of Victoria: Part 5

When young, these Caterpillars are prettily striped. The green dorsal surface has broad dorsal and ventro-lateral stripes that are black and dotted with white. The sides are creamy yellow with a brown lateral stripe. The ventral surface is green. The brick-red head and tail segment adds to the striking appearance of the caterpillar.

Paralaea beggaria
(Photo: courtesy of Marilyn Hewish, Moths of Victoria: Part 5)

The mature caterpillars have a number of colour forms. Most have a green dorsal surface and blue-green ventral surface, which are separated by a yellow lateral line, and have a light yellowish-green head with a speckled mauve crown. The various colour forms have additional yellow, brown and/or purple straight or wavy stripes.

The ventral prolegs on abdominal segment six are complete, but those on segment five are reduced, and those on segments four and three are represented by small bumps. The anal prolegs splay out over the substrate in a fish-tail shape.

The caterpillars have been known to outbreak and defoliate large areas of :

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE ),

    attacking a number of different Eucalyptus species. The early instars seem to prefer younger leaves.

    Several behaviours are characteristic of these caterpillars. At rest, young caterpillars lie along the leaf midrib, or stand off the midrib, like a stick. Mature caterpillars instead tend to cling to the leaf edge. Before changing its skin, a caterpillar lays down a silken pad, and rests on this in a 'U' shape.

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 3.5 cms. The pupal stage can last for up to seven months.

    Paralaea beggaria
    (Photo: courtesy of David Akers, Won Wron, Victoria)

    The adult moth has grey or brown forewings with a dark spot in the middle, and vague transverse ripple marks. The hindwings are pale brown, darkening toward the margins. The wings have scalloped margins. At rest, the moth wraps its forewings around any object to which it clings, perhaps giving the body extra support. The scales on the thorax can be raised to form a crest. The antennae of the females have short fringes. The antennae of the males have substantial fringes. The moths have a wingspan of about 5 cms.

    Paralaea beggaria
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The eggs are laid in a distinctive formation, at a slight angle to the substrate, and slightly overlapping each other, like roof shingles. The eggs are initially duck-blue, changing later in colour to green then cream and finally transparent. They appear to hatch after rain.

    Paralaea beggaria
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melborne, Victoria)

    This genus has been studied by Cathy Byrne.

    The species occurs in

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

    Paralaea beggaria
    female, drawing by Achille Guenée, listed as Chlenias beggaria
    Uranides et Phalénites, Histoire naturelle des insectes,
    Volume 9, Part 10 (1857), Plate 14, fig. 2,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    Further reading :

    Achille Guenée,
    Uranides et Phalénites,
    in Boisduval & Guenée: Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
    Volume 9, Part 10 (1857), p. 238, No. 1311, and Plate 14, fig. 2.

    Marilyn Hewish,
    Moths of Victoria: Part 5,
    Satin Moths and Allies - GEOMETROIDEA (A)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2014, pp. 28-29.

    Peter B. McQuillan, Catherine J. Young, & Alistair M.M. Richardson,
    A revision of the Australian moth genus Paralaea Guest (Lepidoptera: Geometridae: Ennominae),
    Invertebrate Taxonomy,
    Volume 15, part 3 (2001), pp. 277-317.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 19 September 2011, 19 March 2021)