Cerura australis (Scott, 1864)
(previously known as Andria australis)
NOTODONTINAENOTODONTIDAE,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Cerura australis larva
(Photo: courtesy of Ian Common, from Moths of Australia)

The Caterpillars of this species can be fearsome. When disturbed, the Caterpillars rear up, with head thrown back and tail curved up over the body, and spray formic acid!

Cerura australis larva
drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott, listed as Andria australis,

Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), Plate 5,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

The Caterpillars are green with brown patches along the back, There is a hump on the thorax, and long tentacles on each of the two anal prolegs. The Caterpillars feed on :

  • Flintwood ( Scolopia braunii, SALICACEAE ).

    They pupate in a tough cocoon on the tree trunk, and camouflage it with bits of bark. When the adult is ready to emerge, it exudes fluid to weaken one end of the cocoon, making it easier to break through it.


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

    The adult moths of this species have forewings which are white each with one row of black-edged blue spots, and several rows black spots of various shapes. The blue fades to grey in museum specimens. The hindwings are white with variable dark bands, and black and white chequered edges. Both sexes have feathery antennae. The moths have a wingspan of about 6.5 cms.

    Cerura australis larva
    drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott, listed as Andria australis,

    Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), Plate 5,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

    The spherical eggs are laid singly on a leaf of a foodplant, and are white. with a black dot in the middle with a dark ring around it.

    The species has been found in :

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales, and
  • south of Western Australia.


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 17.5, 30.4, p. 421.

    Harriet, Helena, and Alexander W. Scott,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations,
    Australian Lepidoptera,
    Volume 1 (1864), pp. 16-17, and also Plate 5.


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    (updated 12 May 2013)