Hellinsia balanotes (Meyrick, 1908)
(one synonym : Pterophorus aquila Meyrick, 1908)
PTEROPHORINAE ,   PTEROPHORIDAE ,   PTEROPHORIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Debbie Matthews & Stella Crossley

Hellinsia balanotes

This Caterpillar is buff, with sparse hairs, and two thorn-like spines at the tip of the abdomen. It has a brown head and tail, and it also has a brown spiracle on each side of each abdominal segment.

Hellinsia balanotes
Close-up of Caterpillar head.

The caterpillar was imported from Florida into Australia to control the weed:

  • Groundsel Bush ( Baccharis halimifolia , ASTERACEAE ).

    The caterpillar is also reported to feed on various other ASTERACEAE, including:

  • Great-Plains Falsewillow ( Baccharis salicina ),
  • Roosevelt Weed ( Baccharis neglecta ), and
  • Saltwater Falsewillow ( Baccharis angustifolia ).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 1.5 cms.

    Hellinsia balanotes
    Pupa with scale showing 2 mm.

    The adult moth is pale brown with a prominent dark dot on the inner margin of the foremost lobe. There is an arc of dark dots around the forewing margin. The moth has a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Hellinsia balanotes
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian McMillan, Imbil, Queensland)

    The species occurs naturally in

  • southern USA, and
  • northern Mexico,

    but now can also be found in Australia in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Hellinsia balanotes


    Further reading :

    Edward Meyrick,
    Notes and descriptions of Pterophoridae and Orneodidae,
    Transactions of The Entomological Society of London,
    1907, p. 503.


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    (updated 3 May 2011)