Austrocaligula loranthi (T.P. Lucas, 1891)
Mistletoe Emperor Moth
(formerly known as Antheraea loranthi)
SATURNIIDAE,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Austrocaligula loranthi
communal early instars
(Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

These Caterpillars are initially pale yellow with a black thorax and a black penultimate abdominal segment.

Austrocaligula loranthi
later instar
(Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

Later instars can become orange, with dark scoli, each with a white hair with a flattened tip. Final instars are dark green or brown.

Austrocaligula loranthi
final instars
(Photo: courtesy of David and Shireen Brunckhorst, Armidale, New South Wales)

The caterpillar feeds communally on :

  • various species of Mistletoe ( Amyema , LORANTHACEAE ).

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    single cocoon
    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

    The caterpillars pupate in tough dark-brown oval cocoons.

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    communal cluster of cocoons
    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

    The caterpillars often pupate in a communal cluster of cocoons on the main stem of their foodplant or any neaby stationary object.

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

    The adult moth is rusty brown with wrinkled wingtips, a single brown eyespot in the middle of each wing, and has a black submarginal band on each wing, and a black costa to each forewing. The moth has a wingspan up to 14 cms.

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The species is found in Australia often listed as Opodiphthera loranthi) in

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania, and
  • South Australia.

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


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 406,
    (listed as Opodiphthera loranthi)

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    On Queensland and other Australian Macro-Lepidoptera, with Localities and Descriptions of new Species,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Series 2, Volume 6, Part 2 (1891), pp. 292-293.

    John T. Moss,
    The Mistletoe Emperor Moth (Opodiphthera loranthi) (Lucas) (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae),
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 51 (December 2008), pp. 1, 4-7.


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    (updated 14 December 2009, 22 February 2017, 15 September 2019, 2 June 2020)