Epicoma melanosticta (Donovan, 1805)
Common Epicoma
(one synonym : Eriogaster incompta Walker, 1855)
THAUMETOPOEINAE,   NOTODONTIDAE,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Epicoma melanosticta
(Photo: by David Carter, Natural History Museum, London,
courtesy of the Denys Long)

These Caterpillars are dark grey and hairy, with pale spots, and a red neck. They feed nocturnally on various plants from the family MYRTACEAE, including:

  • Barren's Claw-flower ( Calothamnus validus ),
  • Murchison's Claw-flower ( Calothamnus homalophyllus ), and
  • Tea Trees ( Leptospermum ).

    Early instars are gregarious, and are precessionary. Later instars are solitary.

    Epicoma melanosticta
    female
    (Photo: by Susan Foyle, Loftus, New South Wales)

    The female adult moths have grey-brown forewings, each with a large dark patch containing a golden spot near the centre. The hindwings are dark brown.

    Epicoma melanosticta
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Donald Hobern, Aranda, Australian Capital Territory)

    The male adult moths have white forewings, each with a dark patch containing a gold spot, and also each having a dark diagonal line. Both sexes have a very hairy head and thorax. The abdomen of both sexes has a dorsal gold spot on each segment. The forewings of both sexes have black and gold chequered edges and a submarginal arc of white spots. The moths have a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Epicoma melanosticta
    female
    (Photo: by Susan Foyle, Loftus, New South Wales)

    The eggs are laid under an irregular fluffy mass of fawn hairs.

    Epicoma melanosticta
    egg-mass
    (Photo: by Susan Foyle, Loftus, New South Wales)

    The species has been found over most of Australia, including :

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


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 17.11, p. 425.

    Edward Donovan,
    General Illustration of Entomology,
    An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans,
    London (1803), Part 1, p. 155.

    Peter Marriott ,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 2,
    Tiger Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA (A)
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2009, pp. 10-11.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 178.


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    (updated 1 August 2010)