Etiella behrii (Zeller, 1848)
Small Tabby
(one synonym is Alata consociella Walker, 1866)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Etiella behrii
(Photo: courtesy of the South Australian Research and Development Institute)

The Caterpillars of this species are green with pink markings and a mottled brown head. The caterpillars are an agricultural pest, feeding inside the developing seedpods of various members of the family FABACEAE, including:

  • Peanuts ( Arachis hypogaea ),
  • Tagasaste ( Cytisus prolifer ),
  • Soybeans ( Glycine species ),
  • Lupins ( Lupinus nanus ),
  • Lucerne ( Medicago sativa ), and
  • Garden Peas ( Pisum sativum ).

    The caterpillar pupates in a cocoon under the soil.

    Etiella behrii
    (Photo: courtesy of Laura Levens, Victoria)

    The adult is brown or grey, each forewing having a transverse orange band near the base and also a pale grey line, edged with orange, along the costa.

    Etiella behrii
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The hindwings have a satin sheen, and are pale brown with darker veins and margins. The moth has a wingspan of about 1 cm. The males have knobs at the bases of the antennae.

    Etiella behrii
    male, showing knobs at bases of antennae
    (Photo: courtesy of Bronwyn King, Melba, Australian Capital Territory)

    The eggs are off-white and oval, laid in small clusters on a foodplant.

    The species is found over much of south-east Asia including :

  • China,
  • Indonesia,

    and all of Australia, in:

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

    Etiella behrii
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian McMillan, Imbil, Queensland)

    The moths of this species can be distinguished from those of the similar Etiella chrysoporella by, among other things, the greyish area of the hind margin near the forewing tornus.

    Etiella behrii
    (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. 32.4, pp. 57, 66, 350.

    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. 80.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 134.

    Philipp C. Zeller,
    Exotische Phycideen,
    Isis von Oken,
    Volume 11 (1848), p. 883, No. 2.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 8 September 2011, 29 April 2024)