Syntherata janetta (White, 1843)
(one synonym : Antheraea disjuncta Walker, 1865)
SATURNIIDAE ,   BOMBYCOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley & Sue Rostas

Syntherata janetta

This Caterpillar starts of as one of a row of eggs. The eggs are white and ovate, and have a diameter of about 0.5 mm.

Syntherata janetta

The young caterpillars are yellow and have stiff hairs all over.

Syntherata janetta

Later instars become olive green with pink-tipped tubercles each of which has a cluster of short stiff hairs.

Syntherata janetta
(Photo: courtesy of Cory Robert Dale)

The caterpillars have been found feeding on the foliage of a variety of trees such as :

  • Pepper Tree ( Schinus molle , ANACARDIACEAE ),
  • White Mangrove ( Avicennia marina, ACANTHACEAE ),
  • Billy Goat Plum ( Planchonia careya, LECYTHIDACEAE ),
  • Bagras ( Eucalyptus deglupta, MYRTACEAE ),
  • Olive ( Olea europaea, OLEACEAE ),
  • Yellowwood ( Podocarpus spinulosus, PODOCARPACEAE ),
  • Cheese Tree ( Glochidion ferdinandi, PHYLLANTHACEAE ),
  • Obstinate Ash ( Alphitonia obtusifolia , RHAMNACEAE ),
  • Yellow Mangrove ( Ceriops, RHIZOPHORACEAE ),
  • Queensland Apple ( Timonius rumphii, RUBIACEAE ), and
  • various types of Citrus: e.g. Lemon, Orange, ( RUTACEAE ).

    Syntherata janetta
    (Photo: courtesy of Gary Brooks, Tinnanbar, Queensland)

    The caterpillars can grow to a length of about 10 cms.

    Syntherata janetta
    cocoon
    (Photo: courtesy of Gary Brooks, Tinnanbar, Queensland)

    The caterpillar pupates in a stiff oval cocoon on the food plant or nearby structure.

    Syntherata janetta
    (Specimen: courtesy of Anna Piper, Sydney, New South Wales)

    There is a considerable variation in the coloration of adults of this species.

    Syntherata janetta
    (Photo: courtesy of Cory Robert Dale)

    The basic adult moth is yellow with two zig-zag brown or pink lines across each wing. The forewings each have a small transparent dot in the middle.

    Syntherata janetta
    (Photo: courtesy of Evan Harris, Ipswich, Queensland)

    However, the wings often have grey areas, which may extend across the whole of the upper surface of the wings.

    Syntherata janetta
    coloured variant : larva found and raised on
    Camphor Laurel ( Cinnamomum camphora, LAURACEAE )
    (Photo: courtesy of Cory Robert Dale)

    The moth typically has a wingspan of 14 cms. The species occurs in

  • New Guinea,

    and in the northern half of Australia, in

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales, as far south as Newcastle.

    A picture of this caterpillar appears in a book of paintings on Moths and Butterflies by Helena and Harriet Scott - paintings done around 1850s-1860s while living on Ash Island in the Hunter estuary. There it is under its older name Antheraea janetta.

    Syntherata janetta
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Scott Gavins, Fraser Coast, Queensland)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 15.5, 15.7, 28.14, pp. 406-407.

    Peter Hendry,
    Saturniidae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 51, December 2008, pp. 27-29,
    Butterfly and Other Invertebrates Club Inc..

    Buck Richardson,
    Mothology,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2008, pp. i, 10, 34.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 194.

    Harriet Scott,
    Scott Sisters Butterfly and Moth Drawings 1840-1860, Australian Museum Watercolour AMS193/60,
    Antheraea janetta.

    Adam White,
    Descriptions of apparently new species and varieties of insects and other annulosa, principally from the collection in the British Museum,
    Annals and Magazine of Natural History,
    Volume 12 (1843), pp. 344-345, No. 8.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, pp. 6, 162.


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    (updated 15 November 2012, 12 February 2017)