Dasypodia selenophora (Guenée, 1852)
Southern Old Lady Moth
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

early instar
(Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)

This Caterpillar has irregular stripes along the body which in colour vary from pale to dark brown, and several white dots on each segment. The caterpillar feeds at night. During the day, it lies among the shadows : along the underside of a stem of its foodplant, or under a dead leaf near to its foodplant.

caterpillar lying along the underside of a stem of its foodplant
(Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley)

The caterpillar has sparse short stiff hairs, and a two small orange horns on the penultimate segment. Its true legs are orange. The head is brown with an orange stripe edged by a black stripe each side.

(Photo: courtesy of Steve Williams, Moths of Victoria - Part 8)

The last instar has two transverse black dashes between abdominal segments one and two, and another pair between abdominal segments two and three.

head and coloured collar, magnified
(Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)

The final instar has an intricate orange and brown pattern on a collar behind the head, and has some large black spots underneath the abdomen.

showing dark ventral spots
(Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)

Caterpillars of this species have been found feeding on

  • a variety of Wattles (Acacia species, MIMOSACEAE).

    The caterpillar is attacked by various predators and parasites.

    Dasypodia selenophora caterpillar being eaten by a Huntsman Spider:
    Isopedella victorialis ( SPARASSIDAE)
    (Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne)

    The caterpillar matures in about three weeks in summer, and grows to a length of about 7 cms.

    A pair of cocoons on a curled leaf
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    It pupates sometimes in a cocoon, sometimes in the leaf litter or under the bark.

    (Photo: courtesy of Steve Williams, Moths of Victoria - Part 8)

    One specimen had a pupal duration of 19 days in summer in Melbourne.

    (Photo: courtesy of Kim and Glenn)

    The adult varies from greyish brown to orange-brown. The upper wing surfaces have a pattern of darker lines, and each forewing has a large blue, brown and black eyespot in the central area. This eyespot has a semicircular internal structure. The underside of each wing has a small black discal spot.

    (Photo: courtesy of Robin Sharp, Korong Vale, Victoria)

    The moth is well known for its habit of hibernating in nooks and crannies in garages and even houses, and sitting motionless for months, sometimes in full view. The moth has a wingspan of up to 9 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of John Moore, Karratha, Western Australia)

    The eggs are black and spherical, and minutely ridged and pitted. In Melbourne: eggs were laid by one specimen in a small array on a surface in October, and by another specimen in cracks in pieces of bark in December.

    (Photo: courtesy of Steve Williams, Moths of Victoria - Part 8)

    The species is common over the southern half of Australia, but has been found in

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • Norfolk Island,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia,

    and also:

  • Macquarie Island in the Antarctic, and
  • New Zealand.

    close-up of left forewing eyespot
    (Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith, at Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 46.2, pp. 55, 451.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 70.

    Achille Guenée,
    in Boisduval & Guenée :
    Histoire naturelle des insectes; spécies général des lépidoptères,
    Volume 7, Tome 3 (1852), p. 175.

    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. 157.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 8,
    Night Moths and Allies - NOCTUOIDEA(B)
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2017, pp. 1, 10-11, 18-19.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 26 August 2011, 10 April 2017, 10 November 2020)