Wheeleria spilodactylus (Curtis, 1827)
(previously known as Pterophorus spilodactyla)
PTEROPHORINAE ,   PTEROPHORIDAE ,   PTEROPHORIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Debbie Matthews & Stella Crossley

About 100 eggs are laid by the female moth, which hatch in a few days. The baby Caterpillars bore into the developing shoots of the food plant, and work their way down onto more mature foliage. After a few weeks, they pupate, and after another few weeks, the adult moths emerge.

Wheeleria spilodactylus
(Photo: courtesy of John Weiss, Ian Faithfull, and Nicole Freeman
of the Keith Turnbull Research Institute, Frankston, Victoria)

The Caterpillar is reported to feed on:

  • Black Horehound ( Ballota nigra ), and
  • White Horehound ( Marrubium vulgare ),

    both in LAMIACEAE.

    Wheeleria spilodactylus
    (Photo: courtesy of Halina Steele, Canberra, ustralian Capital Territory)

    The moth is white with variable faint brown markings. It has spiny legs and multilobed wings.

    Wheeleria spilodactylus
    drawing by John Curtis, listed as Pterophorus spilodactylus
    ,
    British Entomology, London, 1827, Vol. 6, Plate 161,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    The species has been introduced deliberately into Australia from France in order to control these weeds. The moth is endemic to Europe, including

  • Spain, and
  • United Kingdom,

    but now may also be found in

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


    Further reading :

    John Curtis,
    Illustrations and descriptions of the genera of insects found in Great Britain and Ireland,
    British Entomology,
    London, 1827, Vol. 6, Plate 161.


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    (updated 17 July 2010)