Cryptoptila immersana (Walker, 1863)
Four Eyes or Ivy Leafroller
(previously known as Arctephora immersana)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Cryptoptila immersana
Caterpillar with attached green mites
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

This Caterpillar is small and green, and is named after the four prominent black stripes on its head. These are merely pigmentation, and not actually eyes. The skin is nearly transparent, and the male can be distinguished by the pale yellow pair of gonads about two thirds the way along the body, straddling the main green blood vessel running down the centre of the back. The last abdominal segment and anal prolegs are white with a bluish tinge.

Cryptoptila immersana
Male Caterpillar with gonads showing
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

The caterpillar lives between leaves joined together with silk. If disturbed, it has several escape strategies: it can wriggle violently backwards, or drop on a thread, or exude a nasty dark green liquid from its mouth. It seems to feed on nearly any plant foliage. It has been found on many plants, particularly:

  • Ivy ( Hedera helix, ARALIACEAE ),

    and is a pest on:

  • Avocado ( Persea americana, LAURACEAE ),

    and feeds on plants from many other families, including:

  • Honeysuckle ( Lonicera, CAPRIFOLIACEAE ),
  • Running Postman ( Kennedia prostrata , FABACEAE ),
  • Privet ( Ligustrum, OLEACEAE,
  • Clematis ( Clematis glycinoides, RANUNCULACEAE ),
  • Strawberry ( Fragaria ananassa, ROSACEAE,
  • Citrus ( Citrus, RUTACEAE ),
  • Poplar ( Populus, SALICACEAE ),
  • Wombat Berry ( Eustrephus latifolius, SMILACACEAE ),
  • Lantana ( Lantana camara, VERBENACEAE ),
    as well as
  • Byfield Fern ( Bowenia serrulata, CYCADELES ), and
  • Mangrove Fern ( Acrotrichum aureum, POLYPODIOPHYTA ).

    The Caterpillar grows to a length of about 2 cms. It pupates in its leafy shelter.

    Cryptoptila immersana
    Female adult moth resting
    (Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The patterns of the male and female adults differ: the female has a subtle pattern of light and dark brown patches. She is also larger with a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Cryptoptila immersana
    Female adult moth
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The male is more uniformly dark brown with a golden area near the wing roots. He has a smaller wingspan: about 2.5 cms.

    Cryptoptila immersana
    Male adult moth
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The moths rest so that their wings make a shape like the outline of a bell. Whilst the males are uniquely patterned, the females are similar to those of the related species Cryptoptila australana.

    Cryptoptila immersana
    Male adult moth resting
    (Photo: courtesy of Aila Keto, Springbrook, Queensland)

    The species has been reported in

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

    Cryptoptila immersana
    Male adult moth resting
    (Photo: courtesy of Susan Foyle, Sydney, New South Wales)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 24.10, pp. 68, 278.

    Francis Walker,
    Tortricites & Tineites,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 28 (1863), p. 302, No. 69.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 3 September 2011, 8 November 2017, 19 December 2020, 13 October 2021)