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 black densely speckled with off-white spots. They have larger white spots between segments, black hairs on the back or each segment, and a longer single white hair projecting diagonally upward each side of each of the segments of the thorax.

Epicoma melanosticta
(Photo: courtesy of Steve Williams, Moths of Victoria - Part 2)

The head has a pale face, black pseudo-eyes, and a rusty-red neck. The caterpillars 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
    (Photo: courtesy of Steve Williams, Moths of Victoria - Part 2)

    The pupa is formed in a white cocoon in a sheltered spot.

    Epicoma melanosticta
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 2)

    The female adult moths have white forewings, each with a large dark patch containing a golden spot near the centre, and usually a vague dark diagonal line.

    Epicoma melanosticta
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 2)

    The male adult moths also have white forewings, each with a dark patch containing a gold spot, and having a more pronounced dark diagonal line. The hindwings are dark brown.

    Epicoma melanosticta
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 2)

    Both sexes have a very hairy head and thorax, and feathery antennae. 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 hindwings are dark brown, each with a set of yellow spots along the margin. The moths have a wingspan of about 3 cms.

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

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

    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, 29 April 2018)