(one synonym : Epicoma tristis Hübner, )
THAUMETOPOEINAE, NOTODONTIDAE, NOCTUOIDEA
(Photo: courtesy of Rog Standen, Mt Eliza, Victoria)
The early instars of this Caterpillar are hairy, and off-white with a black head. They occasionally may be seen in procession, each following the silken thread left by the one in front. The caterpillars are gregarious, feeding nocturnally, and sheltering under leaves by day.
The later instars are dark grey and hairy. Its head capsule is white with red sides bordered with black. The true legs are red and the prolegs are orange. There is also an orange lateral line along each side, with a row of orange spots above it. The body is speckled with yellow dots.
The caterpillars have been found feeding on the foliage of:
The caterpillars grow to a length of about 3 cms.
When the caterpillar is mature: it pupates amongst the leaf litter under its foodplant in a fawn elliptical cocoon decorated with larval hairs.
The adults have forewings that are dark brown speckled with silver, with two rows of pale orange and yellow spots along the termen. The central area of each forewing often has an irregular dark mark with a yellow dot in the middle. The hindwings are dark brown with an orange border. The male moths often have an extra yellowish vaguely triangular mark by the central dark area towards the wingtip of each forewing.
The abdomen is black with orange dorsal spots and an orange anal tuft. The wingspan is about 3.5 cms.
When a moth is threatened, it is inclined to lie down and look dead, with its wings lifted high and the abdomen curved under, displaying this orange tuft.
The egss are white laid in cluster and covered in hairs. They seem to be laid anywhere, and the caterpillars left to find a suitable food plant hopefully in the vicinity.
The caterpillars are very similar to those of other Epicoma species. The only superficial difference appears to be the absence of the two long white hairs which grow behind the head of caterpillars of other Epicoma species.
The species is found over much of Australia, including:
Further reading :
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 17.18, p. 425.
Neuer oder rarer nichteuropäischer Gattungen,
Zuträge zur Sammlung exotischer Schmettlinge,
Volume 2 (1823), p. 9, No. 109, and Plate 38, figs. 217, 218.
Moths of Victoria: part 2,
Tiger Moths and their Allies - Noctuoidea (A),
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2009, pp. 8-11.
Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 178.
(updated 7 April 2013, 15 January 2019, 7 July 2020)