Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Caterpillar - White Tussock Moth

Oh ... and you all thought I would do another bird post :-)

I noticed a couple of these caterpillars in the garden today. They are the larvae of the White Tussock moth Acyphas semiochrea. They were well exposed on the outer leaves of a Black Wattle - Acacia decurrens. This wattle is not native to Tasmania and the local foodplant would normally be the Silver Wattle - A. mearnsii. This moth species is not confined to Tasmania. It is found in many areas of Australia and feeds on various Acacia species. The hairs on the caterpillar are also known to cause skin irritations.

The caterpillars feed at night and rest on the foodplant during the day. The two I seen today were so well exposed that I would imagine they stand a good chance of being killed by birds or parasites. If not, then in time they will make a white papery cocoon in which to pupate and will be on the wing from spring through to autumn. You can see the imago by clicking here.

Note: I will probably be out of action for little while. Will be back to blogging soon enough :-)

Acyphas semiochrea
Notice the two forward pointing tufts of hair at the head.

Acyphas semiochrea

Acyphas semiochrea


  1. Recognise that caterpillar from my bare footed youth - but not the moth and I certainly didn't look this focused :) They appear they might scream out "look at me" to birds.

    You are weaning off becoming a bird blogger by not completely cutting out 'wings' ;)

    Hope you have some action while away from blog action!

  2. Hi Mosura,
    I found a Tussock caterpiller species on my patch. Your right about the irritating hairs.