LIMACODIDAE in Australia
Cup and Slug Moths
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley







Cup-like cocoons of Mottled Cup Moth ( Doratifera vulnerans ) showing empty pupal skins.

In Australia, these moths are named 'Cup Moths' from the shape of their pupal cocoon. The cocoon usually has a hard round shape, and is attached to a twig of the food plant. When the moth emerges, a lid is severed from the rest of the cocoon shell, leaving a little cup-shaped receptacle behind. The cocoon closely resembles the shape of a gum-nut, the fruit of a Gum Tree ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE ), on the leaves of which many species of this family feed.

underside of Caterpillar of Doratifera vulnerans.
(Photo: courtesy of Benoit Panassie)

In the USA, members of this family are called 'Slug Moths' because the Caterpillars have reduced true legs, and have no prolegs. They progress using the complete underside of the body, as a slug does.

Caterpillar of Doratifera vulnerans everting its stinging spines.

In Australia, they are also called 'Spitfires', 'Battleships' or 'Warships'. This is because many species of the Caterpillars carry pockets of stinging spines, which are everted when the animal is disturbed, and sting anyone accidentally brushing against a tree leaf on which it is sitting. Despite this protection, the caterpillars are still attacked by other carnivorous insects

Caterpillar of Doratifera casta attacked by the bug Oechalia schellenbergii
(Photo: courtesy of Jenny Holmes, Great Western, Victoria)

The shape of the caterpillars has also given them the common name 'Chinese Junks'. The Caterpillars are inclined to sit by day happily exposed on the leaves of their foodplant, as they have a bright warning pattern or coloration. Their shape, coloration and perhaps their slow progression has led to another of their common names: 'Bondi Trams'.

Many of the moths in this family are inclined to sit on a twig with wings closed over the back, like a tent. Their wingspan is such that this posture makes the wing margins hang down below the twig, quite overlapping it.

The 117 named Australian species in LIMACODIDAE are :

Anaxidia lactea
Anaxidia lozogramma

Anepopsia eugyra
Anepopsia tephraea

Apodecta monodisca

Birthamoides plagioscia

Calcarifera ordinata : Blue Warts Caterpillar
Calcarifera species : Rainbow Battleship Caterpillar

Chalcocelis albiguttatus

  • Chalcocelis castanica

    Comana albibasis : Lion's Mane Moth
    Comana collaris
    Comana corones
    Comana cosmocalla
    Comana euryparoa
    Comana idiomorpha
    Comana inexpectata
    Comana miltochyta
    Comana miltogramma

  • Comana mjobergi
    Comana monomorpha
    Comana resplendens

    Comanula uniformis

    Doratifera casta : Black Cup Moth
    Doratifera corallina
    Doratifera ochroptila
    Doratifera oxleyi : Painted Cup Moth
    Doratifera pinguis : Pale Cup Moth
    Doratifera quadriguttata : Four Spotted Cup Moth
    Doratifera stenora
    Doratifera vulnerans : Mottled Cup Moth

    Ecnomoctena brachyopa
    Ecnomoctena hemitoma
    Ecnomoctena sciobaphes

    Elassoptila microxutha

    Eloasa acrata
    Eloasa atmodes
    Eloasa bombycoides
    Eloasa brevipennis
    Eloasa calida
    Eloasa callidesma
    Eloasa infrequens
    Eloasa liosarca

  • Eloasa luxa
    Eloasa perixera
  • Eloasa sphemosema
    Eloasa symphonistis

    Hedraea quadridens

    Hydroclada antigona
    Hydroclada kenricki

    Lamprolepida chrysochroa

    Limacochara pulchra

    Mambara haplopis
    Mambara delocrossa

    Mecytha dnophera
    Mecytha fasciata : Macadamia Cup Moth

    Parasa lepida : Blue-striped Nettle Grub

  • Parasoidea albicollaris
  • Parasoidea neurocausta
    Parasoidea paroa

    Praesusica placerodes

    Pseudanapaea denotata
    Pseudanapaea dentifascia
    Pseudanapaea transvestita : Orange Cup Moth

    Pygmaeomorpha aquila
    Pygmaeomorpha modesta
    Pygmaeomorpha ocularis

    Scopelodes dinawa
    Scopelodes nitens

    Squamosa barymorpha

    Thosea penthima : Billygoat Plum Stinging Caterpillar
    Thosea threnopis

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 3 December 2014, 2 August 2023)