Agrotis porphyricollis Guenée, 1852
(one synonym : Graphiphora reclusa Walker, 1857)
Variable Cutworm
NOCTUINAE,   NOCTUIDAE,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Agrotis porphyricollis
male
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

This brown grub of a Caterpillar lives under the ground in daytime, emerging at night to feed. The caterpillar is a pest in Tasmania on:

  • Sugar Beet ( Beta vulgaris, CHENOPODIACEAE ), and
  • Potato ( Solanum tuberosum, SOLANACEAE ).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 3 cms.

    Agrotis porphyricollis
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Jenny Holmes, Victoria)

    The adult moths are fawn with several dark spots on the forewings.

    Agrotis porphyricollis
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    Specimens show a wide variation in colouring.

    Agrotis porphyricollis
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of the Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    Underneath, they have a large dark spot at the tip of each wing which is more prominent under the hindwings. The moths have a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Agrotis porphyricollis
    mating pair: male on the left
    (Photo: courtesy of Wandiyali Images, Wandiyali-Environa Conservation Area, New South Wales)

    The species has been found in

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

    Agrotis porphyricollis
    male, drawing by George Francis Hampson, listed as Euxoa reclusa,

    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Phalænæ in the British Museum,
    Noctuidæ, Volume IV (1903), Plate LXVII, figure 15,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Ernst Mayr Library, Harvard University.

    Agrotis porphyricollis
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of John Bromilow, Ainslie, Australian Capital Territory)

    The name Agrotis porphyricollis seems to be currently applied to two different this species. This situation needs more study.


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 64.

    Achille Guenée,
    Noctuidae,
    in Boisduval & Guenée : Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
    Volume 9, Part 5 (1852), p.259, No. 410.

    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), p. 166.

    Peter Marriott & Marilyn Hewish,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 9,
    Cutworms and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA (C)
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2020, pp. 30-31.


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    (updated 15 April 2013, 16 December 2017, 25 December 2020)