Clania ignobilis (Walker, 1869)
Faggot Case Moth
(one synonym : Eumeta ernesti Heylaerts, 1885)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

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

These Caterpillars live and pupate in a silken case. to which they attach twigs parallel to the axis of the case. Ian Common notes that the larval case of this species has all the attached twigs of uniform length, except for one or sometimes two or three twigs which are cut longer than the others. However John O. Westwood illustrates the case of Clania lewinii as having this feature.

Clania ignobilis
(Photo: courtesy of Vanessa, Tasmania)

The caterpillars normally only protrude the head and thorax out of the case, as these are covered in a hard skin that is coloured in a light and dark brown pattern. The soft abdomen is kept inside the protective case.

Clania ignobilis
(Photo: courtesy of Patricia Gurry, Perth, Western Australia)

The caterpillars seem to prefer feeding on plants in MYRTACEAE such as

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus species ), and
  • Apple Guava ( Psidium guajava ),

    but they have been reported on plants in other families including

  • Australian Cypress ( Callitris species, CUPRESSACEAE ),
  • Monterey Cypress ( Hesperocyparis macrocarpa, CUPRESSACEAE ),
  • Pine ( Pinus species, PINACEAE ),

    and in 2017 were reported to be at pest levels in Melbourne on

  • Silver Birch ( Betula pendula, BETULACEAE ).

    Clania ignobilis
    empty pupal shell inside case
    (Photo: courtesy of Heather Jordan, Ainslie, Australian Capital Territory)

    The case can grow to a length of up to 5 cms.

    Clania ignobilis
    (Photo: courtesy of Donald Hobern, Blackheath, New South Wales)

    The adult male has translucent grey wings, with a wingspan of about 3 cms. The wings easily lose their scales.

    Clania ignobilis
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian Baird, O'Connor, Australian Capital Territory)

    The males have a small white tuft at the base of each forewing. The hindwings have sinuous margins. The head, thorax, and abdomen are hairy, and vary from brown to black.

    Clania ignobilis
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The male moth has a long prehensile abdomen, which is used to fertilise a female inside her case.

    The female is wingless and does not even have six true legs. She looks like a tubby off-white grub, with an off-white head. She has a length of about 7 mm. She stays inside the case, and is fertilised by a male inserting the tip of his abdomen into the anal end of the case.

    The species is found over much of Australia, including

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

    The species is attacked by a parasitic fly that lays eggs on the foodplant of the caterpillar, which are ingested and hatch inside the caterpillar.

    Clania ignobilis
    case opened to show pupa of parasitic fly
    (Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith, at the Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 19.7, p. 179.

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 40.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 184.

    Francis Walker,
    Characters of undescribed Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    E.W. Janson, London (1869), p. 67, No. 7.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 14 January 2013, 12 July 2023)