Syntherata melvilla (Westwood, 1853)
(one synonym is Antheraea purpurascens Walker, 1865)
SATURNIIDAE,   BOMBYCOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


Photo: courtesy of David A. Lane, (Ted) E.D. Edwards, & Stefan Naumann, from
A revision of the genus Syntherata Maasen, 1873 (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) within Australia, with the description of three new species, and descriptions of their life histories,
The European Entomologist, Volume 3, Part 1 (2010), pp. 21-27.

The young caterpillars of this species are pale green with a black line along each side, a black head, and are covered in stiff hairs.


Photo: courtesy of David A. Lane, (Ted) E.D. Edwards, & Stefan Naumann, from
A revision of the genus Syntherata Maasen, 1873 (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) within Australia, with the description of three new species, and descriptions of their life histories,
The European Entomologist, Volume 3, Part 1 (2010), pp. 21-27.

The caterpillars have been thought to feed on various trees, including

  • Billy Goat Plum ( Planchonia careya, LECITHIDACEAE ),
  • Isinkaha ( Ceriops tagal, RHIZOPHORACEAE ),
  • Spotted Mangrove ( Rhizophora stylosa, RHIZOPHORACEAE ),
  • Mangrove ( Bruguiera sp., RHIZOPHORACEAE ), and
  • Silkwood ( Flindersia species, RUTACEAE ).

    In later caterpillars: the head becomes brown, and the black lines break into lines of dashes along each side. The final instars are lime green with purple tubercles each of which has a cluster of short stiff hairs.

    Syntherata melvilla
    (Photo: courtesy of Ethan Beaver, Kununurra, Western Australia)

    There is a considerable variation in the coloration of adults of this species. The basic adult moth is yellow with two zig-zag brown lines across each wing. The forewings each have a small brown-outlined transparent dot in the middle. The hindwings have a submarginal arc of dark spots. The wingspan is about 10 cms.

    Syntherata melvilla
    dark form
    (Photo: courtesy of Ethan Beaver, Darwin, Northern Territory)

    However, the wings can be brown. The moth typically has a wingspan of 11 cms.

    The species has been found in Australia in

  • Western Australia, and
  • Northern Territory.


    Further reading :

    David A. Lane, (Ted) E.D. Edwards, & Stefan Naumann,
    A revision of the genus Syntherata Maasen, 1873 (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) within Australia, with the description of three new species, and descriptions of their life histories,
    The European Entomologist,
    Volume 3, Part 1 (2010), pp. 21-27, figs. 6, 19, 54-69.

    John O. Westwood,
    Descriptions of some new species of exotic moths belonging or allied to the genus Saturnia,
    Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London,
    Part 21 (1853), pp. 166-167.


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    (written 12 February 2017, updated 10 December 2017)