Mike & Pat Coupar, and Stella Crossley
(updated 16 April 2009)
(Photo from: “Flying Colours”, Coupar & Coupar, 1992)
The Caterpillars have sparse grey hairs, and are black with orange spots and broken cream lines along the body. They feed on various plants from BORAGINACEAE such as:
- Octopus Bush ( Argusia argentea ),
- Salvation Jane ( Echium plantagineum ),
- Heliotrope ( Heliotropium arborescens ),
- Forget-me-not ( Myosotis arvensis ).They grow to about 3 cms. The animal then pupates in a loose cocoon spun in the leaf litter on the ground below the foodplant.
The moth looks quite white when it is flying, but at rest, the pretty pattern of red and black spots on the white fore wings can be seen. Each hind wing is white with two black spots and an irregular black margin. The moth has a wingspan up to about 3 cms.
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)
The adult moth is superficially similar to Utetheisa lotrix, but there are subtle anatomical differences, and the pattern of pink and black spots is different. In particular, there is a red spot at the tornus of each fore wing ( Roger Kendrick). Also the males have a fold along the inner margin of each hindwing covered in hairs which appears to hold a pheromone.
(Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)
The eggs are pale green and laid in a row on a leaf tip.
The species occurs widely in the Indo-Australian region, including :
- Hong Kong,
- New Zealand,
- Seychelles,and much of Australia, including
- Keeling Islands,
- New South Wales,
- Norfolk Island,
- Queensland, and
- Western Australia.
Note that this is a different species from Utetheisa pulchella (Linnaeus, 1758), which occurs mainly in the northern hemisphere.The correct genus name is Utetheisa; author Hubner (with an umlaut over the u), 1819. Sometimes it is listed as Utethesia, but this is a misspelling made by Moore in 1860.
(Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett)