Apina callisto (Angas, 1847)
Pasture Day Moth
(previously known as Amazela calisto)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Apina callisto
(Photo: courtesy of Rae Calvert, Opossum Bay, Tasmania)

This Caterpillar is dark grey with yellow mottling. A pair of pale yellow lines run along each side of the back each ending in an enlarged pale spot on the final segment. There are red or white rings between the segments, and a pair of blue spots on the back of each segment. The legs are red, and there are three red or yellow lines on the prothorax. There are three smaller and more widely spaced orange marks on the head. The body and head have sparse thin white spines.

Apina callisto
(Photo: courtesy of Ken Fairey)

The caterpillars have been reported feeding on a variety of herbaceous plants, including :

  • Pigface ( Carpobrotus rossii, AIZOACEAE ),
  • Capeweed ( Arctotheca calendula, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Early Nancy ( Wurmbea dioica, COLCHICACEAE ),
  • Subterranean Clover ( Trifolium subterraneum, FABACEAE ),
  • Storksbill ( Erodium species, GERANIACEAE ), and
  • Sheep's Sorrel ( Rumex acetosella, POLYGONACEAE ).

    Sometimes, however, they are an agricultural pest on pastures in Australia.

    Apina callisto
    caterpillar digging a hole in the soil
    (Photo: courtesy of Nadine Brown, Swan Reach, South Australia)

    The caterpillars are great excavators, digging a burrow when mature in which to pupate underground. For caterpillars collected in Narrabri in September, the adults emerged the following May.

    The caterpillars sometimes are a hazard to aircraft at airports, by crawling onto the runaways, attracting predatory birds, which then can strike the engines.

    Apina callisto
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The adult has a black thorax and orange abdomen ringed with black. The forewings above are black with cream and reddish-brown markings. The hindwings are black with a large white central area.

    Apina callisto
    (Photo: courtesy of Nadine Brown, Swan Reach, South Australia)

    Underneath, both wings are black a white central area surrounding black discal markings. The upper and under surfaces of both fore and hind wings have a submarginal arc of white dots. The wingspan is about 4 cms. The moth is active during the day.

    Apina callisto
    (Photo: courtesy of Nadine Brown, Swan Reach, South Australia)

    The species is found all over the southern half of Australia, including:

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital territory,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Apina callisto
    (Photo: courtesy of Tim Mckay, Derrimut, Victoria)

    Further reading :

    George French Angas,
    South Australia Illustrated,
    Thomas McLean, London, 1847, p.5.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 22.19, fig. 54.14, pp. 65, 463.

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 175.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 8,
    Night Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA(B)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2017, pp. 34-35.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 17 August 2013, 3 August 2018, 13 June 2020)