Friday, 27 June 2008

Tree Lucerne Moth - Uresiphita ornithopteralis

  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Crambidae
  • Species: Uresiphita ornithopteralis (Guenee, 1854)

The imago

This is a very common moth locally, with a long flight period running from November to July. The larvae feed on various plants of the family Fabaceae including English and Spanish Broome, as well as some Acacias. We have a bit of a problem with the intoduced Broom, Genista monspessulana, on our block so it is a good species to have around. I have seen young broom plants completely defoliated by this caterpillar.


Batches of 10 -15 eggs are laid on the upper leaf surface of the host plant. These hatch after about 2 weeks. The larvae go though 4 instars over a period of 4 to 8 weeks reaching 18 - 30mm in length. after which they pupate on the ground within a finely woven, loose cocoon. Pupation can last anwhere from 9 to 114 days.

Larvae on Cape Broom -Genista monspessulana

These are fairly easy to rear from larvae. I have done so using just a chinese take-away container as you might be able to detect in the photo below. Just provide fresh food and keep the container clean and aired so as to avoid fungal attack.

Cocoon - the larva within has not yet pupated

The Tree Lucerne Moth is considered by some to be a subspecies of the Uresiphita gilvata (Fabricius, 1794).

  • Common Moths of the Adelaide Region - McQuillan & Forrest, 1985
  • Moths of Australia - Common I.F.B, 1990


  1. Love these photos!

    I have tagasaste growing here and have been monitoring the plants for any caterpillar activity. Nothing so far, but the year's not over yet!

  2. They are on the broom down here at the moment so keep looking.

  3. Very interesting post with great photos Alan, I get that one here occasionally. Your blog is great, I've linked it, good to see so many more terrific Aussie nature blogs on the web.

  4. Thanks Duncan and thanks for the link too. I'll be keeping an eye on your blog. You have lots of interesting stuff in there,