Cebysa leucotelus Walker, 1854
Australian Bagmoth
(one synonym : Oecinea scotti Macleay, 1865)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Cebysa leucotelus larval case
(Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

These caterpillars typically feed on

  • Algae,
  • Fungus, or
  • Lichen,

    which grow on tree trunks, rocks, old fences, etc. They live in a silken case which they cover in bits of detritus, making a good camouflage. They grow to a case length of about 2 cms.

    Cebysa leucotelus larva
    cut-open case showing caterpillar inside
    (Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The caterpillar has an off-white abdomen, but a brown head and thorax. The head and thorax are protected by a hard chitinous skin, whereas the abdomen has only a soft skin. The collar around the head has alternating stries of black and white.

    Cebysa leucotelus larva
    close-up of caterpillar showing head and thorax
    (Photo: courtesy of Cath Busby, Cook, Australian Capital Territory)

    Normally only the head and thorax are protruded from the case when the caterpillar walks and feeds

    Cebysa leucotelus female
    (Photo: courtesy of Wendy Moore, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The adult female moth has black wings with yellow wingtips and patches. The black parts of the wings and the body have a metallic blue sheen. She has long legs which make up for the fact that her wings do not expand properly, so she cannot fly, and has to walk everywhere.

    Cebysa leucotelus female
    (Photo: courtesy of Marie-Louise Sendes, Currarong, New South Wales)

    She also has a long ovipositor sticking out of her last abdominal segment.

    Cebysa leucotelus female
    Female: set specimen with the wings artificially expanded
    (Photo: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The male has a similar pattern and colouring to the female, but has no iridescence. Also, he has fully developed wings, and can fly quite normally.

    Cebysa leucotelus male
    (Photo: courtesy of Nick Monaghan)

    This species is found :

  • New Zealand,

    as well as Australia, including

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

    Cebysa leucotelus male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 23.7, p. 179.

    Harriet, Helena, and Alexander W. Scott,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations,
    Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), p. 29, and also Plate 9: lower right.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 2 (1854), p. 486.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 8 January 2013, 18 April 2023)