Cryptophasa albacosta Lewin, 1805
Small Fruit Tree Borer
(one synonym : Cryptophasa albocosta Scott, 1864)
XYLORYCTIDAE ,   GELECHIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott
,
Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), Plate 3,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

This Caterpillar is pale grey with a series of dark red rings between segments. The head is black, the thorax is red with white markings, and the tail plate is red. The caterpillar bores a hole into the branch of a tree, and emerges at night to drag leaves into the borehole which are consumed at leisure. It creates a silky pile of frass at the borehole entrance. It has been found feeding on various trees, including :

  • Old Man Banksia ( Banksia serrata, PROTEACEAE ),
  • Christmas Bush ( Callicoma gummiferum, CUNIONIACEAE ),
  • Tamarisk ( Tamarix, TAMARICACEAE ),
  • Poplar ( Populus, SALICACEAE ),
  • Apricot ( Prunus, ROSACEAE ).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of up to 5 cms. The caterpillars pupate in their borehole.


    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

    The adult moth has fawn forewings that each have line of dark dots along the margin, a dark spot and a variable ear-shaped mark near the middle, and white areas. The hindwings are black fading to white at the margin. The thorax is white, and the abdomen is black with white hairs on the last segment. The male moths have a wingspan of about 2.5 cms. The females have a wingspan up to 5 cms.


    drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott
    ,
    Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), Plate 3,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

    The species is found in :

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


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby and Penny Olsen.
    A Flutter of Butterflies,
    National Library of Australia, 2011, p. 98.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, Pl. 6.3, p. 230.

    Ian McMillan,
    Cryptophasa albacosta, Xyloryctine Moths of Australia,
    Blog, Tuesday, September 21, 2010.

    Harriet, Helena, and Alexander W. Scott,
    Australian Lepidoptera,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations,
    Volume 1 (1864), pp. 8-9, and also Plate 3.


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    (updated 4 May 2011)