Anthela ocellata (Walker, 1855)
Eyespot Anthelid
(one synonym : Ommatoptera tetrophthalma Herrich-Schäffer, [1856})
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Anthela ocellata
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

This is a light or dark brown hairy Caterpillar with a brown and black head capsule divided by a central pale inverted Y, making its head look as though it has two large brown eyes. It is hairy with two longer tufts on the thorax looking like a pair of horns.

Anthela ocellata
(Photo: courtesy of Carol Buchanan, New South Wales)

There is large pair of white spots on the back of the first abdominal segment, a double row of pink spots all along the back, with white spots beside each one.

Anthela ocellata
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

The caterpillar feeds on various Grasses ( POACEAE ), especially exotics like :

  • Chilean Needle Grass ( Nassella neesiana ),
  • Stebbin's Grass ( Ehrharta erecta ), and
  • various Cereal crops.

    Anthela ocellata
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

    When disturbed, the caterpillar rolls into a tight spiral, with its head in the centre. The Caterpillar grows to a length of 5 cms.

    Anthela ocellata
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    In the wild, it pupates in a buff papery double-walled cocoon in the debris on the ground. In captivity, it crawls to the top of the container to pupate.

    Anthela ocellata
    (Photo: courtesy of Deb Taylor, Wallaga Lake, New South Wales)

    The female moths are buff with two dark brown circles on each forewing, and pale margins. The antennae of the females are thread-like. The females have a fat abdomen, and a wingspan up to 6 cms.

    Anthela ocellata
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Whittlesea, Victoria)

    In the male moths, the dark forewing outlines are filled, and the abdomen is narrower. The antennae are feathery. The wingspan of the males is about 5 cms.

    Anthela ocellata
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The species occurs in Australia in:

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

    Anthela ocellata
    (Photo: courtesy of the Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The undersides show two dark outline circles under each wing for both sexes.

    Anthela ocellata
    Male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Laura Levens, Victoria)

    The eggs are buff coloured each with a dark spot, and are laid in a flat cluster. They each have a diameter of about 0.5 mm.

    Anthela ocellata
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

    Further reading :

    David Carter,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 213.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 39.18, p. 396.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 27.

    Peter Hendry,
    The Anthelidae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 50 (September 2008), pp 27-31,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    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. 95.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 16-19.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 4 (1855), p. 887.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 155.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 24 April 2013, 14 July 2023)