Paralaea porphyrinaria (Guenée, 1857)
Chestnut-veined Crest-moth
(one synonym : Palleopa rufivena Walker, 1866)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

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

Mature caterpillars are broader and more uniformly blue-green in colour with fine reddish-purple dots. They also have a yellow lateral stripe that fades to green at the thorax. On the thorax the spiracles are surrounded by prominent red spots. The head looks like a flat purple disc.

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. At rest, these caterpillars typically have a hunched posture.

The caterpillars feed on the foliage of :

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE ),

    early instars preferring young leaves.

    The Caterpillar grows to a length of about 4 cms. The pupal stage can last for up to seven months.

    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The adult moth has purplish-brown forewings with a dark spot in the middle, and brown veins. The hind wings are silvery greyish-brown. At rest, the moth wraps its fore wings around any object to which it clings, giving the body extra support. The moths have a wingspan of about 6 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Alan Melville, Tasmania)

    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 pale green, changing later to become transparent. They appear to hatch after rain.

    female with eggs
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The species has been found in

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

    This genus has recently been studied by Cathy Byrne.

    male, wing undersides
    (Photo: courtesy of Marilyn Hewish, Moths of Victoria: Part 5)

    Further reading :

    Achille Guenée,
    Uranides et Phalénites,
    in Boisduval & Guenée:
    Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
    Volume 9, Part 10 (1857), pp. 237-238, No. 1310.

    Marilyn Hewish,
    Moths of Victoria: Part 5 - Satin Moths and Allies - GEOMETROIDEA (A),
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2014, pp. 6-7, 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 17 September 2011, 27 February 2021)