Tussock Moths (LYMANTRIIDAE )

Butterflies & Moths (Lepidoptera)

Lymantriidae is a family of moths found all over the world. Adult moths do not feed, have muted brown and grey colours, although some are white, and tend to be very hairy. In the larvae of some species, hairs are gathered in dense tufts along the back and this gives them the common name of tussocks.

This Tussock Moth hairy caterpillar has an orange patch and white hairs on the thorax, and two white spots on the sixth and seventh segments. The caterpillar was on a Podocarpus elatus. The hairs of many species cause skin irritation in some people (urticaria). The caterpillars usually pupate within a thin cocoon of larval hairs. Adult moths are short lived because they do not feed. In some species the females are wingless.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Euproctis lutea

This moth may be a Euproctis lutea. The adult moth has a hairy brown body. The forewings are yellow with two faint paler zigzag lines across each one. The hindwings are plain yellow. It has a wingspan of about 30 mm. It occurs over the whole northern half of Australia, and possibly in New Guinea.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Lymantriid Caterpillar

This hairy caterpillar is a Lymantriid of some kind – it might be the dark form of Teia anartoides. This caterpillar has a red band at the head, with long hairs out each side near the head, two prominent black tuft masses a third of the way down the body, then a section of white bands, then the two red spots and a tail tuft. It was found on a Stiff Canthium Psydrax odorata subsp. buxifolia.

Photo: Robert Whyte