Clania lewinii (Westwood, [1855])
Stick Case Moth
(one synonym : Clania tenuis Rosenstock, 1885)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

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. However John O. Westwood illustrates the case of Clania lewinii as having one twig longer than the others.

(Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, Kuranda, Queensland)

Judging by the patterns on the head and thorax of the caterpillaars, there appears to be more than one species with cases covered in equal-length parallel sticks. It is unclear at present which is Clania lewinii.

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

The caterpillars feed on the foliage of various members of the plant family MYRTACEAE :

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus ),
  • Tea Trees ( Leptospermum ), and also
  • Bottlebrush ( Callistemon ),

    as can be seen from the Bottlebrush twigs used by the caterpillar in the photograph above. Nevertheless, this individual happily accepted leaves of various bipinnate Wattles ( Acacia, MIMOSACEAE )!

    The caterpillar inside the case has hard skin on the head and thorax which has a mottled brown and white pattern. This hard skin protects the caterpillar when these parts are protruded from the case for it to walk and feed. The abdomen which it keeps within the case has soft skin and is a dark brown with a row of orange spiracles along each side. The case can grow to a length of up to 3 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

    The adult male is brown with translucent grey wings. The thorax of the male has a white stripe along each side. It has a wing span of about 2 cms.

    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The species occurs over the southern half of Australia, including:

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

    drawing by John O. Westwood,

    Descriptions of some species of Lepidopterous insects belonging to the genus Oiketicus,
    Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London,
    Volume 22 (1854), Plate 37, fig. 1,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library,
    digitized by Natural History Museum Library, London.

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 19.8, p. 179.

    John O. Westwood,
    Descriptions of some species of Lepidopterous insects belonging to the genus Oiketicus,
    Proceedings of The Zoological Society of London,
    Part 22 (1854), pp. 231-232. and also Plate 37, fig. 1

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 9 September 2011, 26 October 2017, 1 March 2019, 4 October 2019, 22 October 2020)