Philobota productella (Walker, 1864)
Pasture Tunnel Moth
(one synonym : Oecophora griseicostella Zeller, 1877)
OECOPHORINAE,   OECOPHORIDAE,   GELECHIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of the South Australian Research and Development Institute)

This Caterpillar is off-white with a dark brown head and thorax. It is long and thin, with a length of about 3 cms. It makes a vertical tunnel in the ground where it hides by day, and emerges at night to cut off leaves and drag them into its tunnel. It seems to prefer to feed on plants in POACEAE, including

  • Wheat (Triticum species),
  • Barley (Hordeum species), and
  • Rye Grass (Lolium species).

    The species is a pest because in large numbers the caterpillars are inclined to kill the plants they feed on.


    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Gisborne, Victoria)

    The adult moths are shiny white, with the males having a variable fragmented dark streak along each forewing costa. The moths have a wingspan of about 2.5 cms.

    The species occurs in

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

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Oecophorine Genera of Australia II: The Chezala, Philobota and Eulechria groups (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae)
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Volume 5,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 1997, pp. 266,267, 271, 272, 275, 393.

    R.J. Roberts,
    Timing and duration of the crepuscular flights and mating of the pasture tunnel moth Philobota productella (Walk.) (Lepidoptera : Oecophoridae),
    Proceedings of the 3rd Australasian Conference on Grassland Invertebrate Ecology,
    Adelaide, November 1981, pp. 57-62.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 29 (1864), p. 688.

    Philipp Christoph Zeller,
    Exotische Microlepidoptera,
    Horae Societatis Entomologicae Rossicae,
    Volume 13 (1877), p. 395.


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    (updated 17 May 2011, 19 December 2017)