Austrocaligula loranthi (T.P. Lucas, 1891)
Mistletoe Emperor Moth
(formerly known as Antheraea loranthi)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Austrocaligula loranthi
communal early instars
(Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

These Caterpillars are initially pale yellow with a black thorax and a black penultimate abdominal segment.

Austrocaligula loranthi
later instar
(Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

Later instars can become orange, with dark scoli, each with a white hair with a flattened tip. Final instars are dark green or brown.

Austrocaligula loranthi
final instars
(Photo: courtesy of David and Shireen Brunckhorst, Armidale, New South Wales)

The caterpillar feeds communally on :

  • various species of Mistletoe ( Amyema , LORANTHACEAE ).

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    single cocoon
    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

    The caterpillars pupate in tough dark-brown oval cocoons.

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    communal cluster of cocoons
    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

    The caterpillars often pupate in a communal cluster of cocoons on the main stem of their foodplant or any neaby stationary object.

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

    The adult moth is rusty brown with wrinkled wingtips, a single brown eyespot in the middle of each wing, and has a black submarginal band on each wing, and a black costa to each forewing. The moth has a wingspan up to 14 cms.

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The species is found in Australia often listed as Opodiphthera loranthi) in

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

    Austrocaligula loranthi
    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Dodge, Nowra, New South Wales)

    This species was moved from the genus Opodiphthera to Austrocaligula by Brechlin in 2005, and many Taxonomists disagree with this reassignment. Here, we follow Brechlin in this most recent publication on this family.

    Further reading :

    Ronald Brechlin,
    Einige Anmerkungen zur Gattung Neodiphthera Fletcher, 1982 stat. rev. mit Beschreibung von vier neuen Arten (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae),
    Nachrichten des Entomologischen Vereins Apollo,
    N.F. 26 , Parts 1/2 (2005), pp. 1729.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 406,
    (listed as Opodiphthera loranthi)

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    On Queensland and other Australian Macro-Lepidoptera, with Localities and Descriptions of new Species,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Series 2, Volume 6, Part 2 (1891), pp. 292-293.

    John T. Moss,
    The Mistletoe Emperor Moth (Opodiphthera loranthi) (Lucas) (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae),
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 51 (December 2008), pp. 1, 4-7.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 14 December 2009, 22 February 2017, 15 September 2019, 2 June 2020, 21 April 2022)