Cryptophasa irrorata Lewin, 1805
XYLORYCTIDAE,   GELECHIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley


caterpillar, drawing by John Lewin
,
A natural history of the Lepidopterous insects of New South Wales,
London: J. H. Bohte, 1822, Plate 10,
courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

The Caterpillar of this species has sparse stiff bristles all over, including the head. The head is brown and crinkled. The prothorax is white with two dark marks. The mesothorax is grey with a pattern of several orange or red knobs. The metathorax is white with dark crossing lines on top, and knobs at the sides. The abdomen is off-white with several orange or red knobs on each segment, and with wide grey rings between segments.


(Photo: courtesy of Bronwyn King, Lake Ginninderra, Australian Capital Territory)

The caterpillar lives in a tunnel bored into a branch of a

  • She Oak ( Casuarina species, CASUARINACAE ).


    tunnel cover, drawing by John Lewin
    ,
    A natural history of the Lepidopterous insects of New South Wales,
    London: J. H. Bohte, 1822, Plate 10,
    courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

    Some branchlets are attached to the frass and silk cover of the entrance to its tunnel.


    tunnel cover
    (Photo: courtesy of Bronwyn King, Melba, Australian Capital Territory)

    By day: the caterpillar feeds on branchlets brought into its tunnel the previous night.


    pupa in tunnel, drawing by John Lewin
    ,
    A natural history of the Lepidopterous insects of New South Wales,
    London: J. H. Bohte, 1822, Plate 10,
    courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

    The caterpillar pupates in its tunnel.


    female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The adult moths are grey with a subtle pattern of markings on the forewings.


    male
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Concord, New South Wales)

    The sexes are slightly dimorphic. The females are inclined to have a bolder pattern than the males. The moths have a wingspan of about 4 cms.


    female(left) and male(right)
    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

    The eggs are pale green and spheroidal, and are laid in irregular piles.


    egg masses

    This species is found all along the eastern seaboard of Australia, including

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


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 23.15, p. 230.

    John William Lewin,
    Prodromus Entomology,
    Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales,
    London : T. Bensley (1805), p. 11, and also Plate 10.

    Ian McMillan,
    Blog, Wednesday, September 15, 2010,
    Xyloryctine Moths of Australia,
    Cryptophasa irrorata.


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    (updated 30 September 2012, 28 February 2020)