The early instars of this Caterpillar are gregarious, feeding by day. Later instars are solitary. They occasionally may be seen in procession, each following the silken thread left by the one in front.

Epicoma tristis
(Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley)

The Caterpillar is dark grey and hairy. Its head capsule is white with red sides bordered with black. The true legs are red and the prolegs are orange. There is also an orange lateral line along each side, with a row of orange spots above it. The body is speckled with yellow dots. A pair of long white hairs project diagonally forward from the thorax.

Epicoma tristis
(Photo: by David Carter, Natural History Museum, London,
courtesy ofDenys Long, East Sussex)

The Caterpillar feeds on various species in MYRTACEAE, including :

The Caterpillars grow to a length of about 3 cms.

When the Caterpillar is mature, it crawls under the soil to pupate. In Melbourne, the adult moths emerge about four weeks later.

Epicoma tristis

The adults have fore wings that are dark brown speckled with silver flecks, with a row of orange spots along the termen, and a subterminal row of cream spots. The central area of each fore wing has a dark ring with a yellow dot in the middle. The hind wings are dark brown with an orange border. The abdomen is black with orange dorsal spots and an orange anal tuft.

Epicoma tristis
display behaviour

When the moth is threatened, it is inclined to lie down and look dead, with its wings lifted high and the abdomen curved under, displaying this orange tuft.

Epicoma tristis
(Photo: courtesy ofBruce Anstee)

The Caterpillars of this species are difficult to distinguish from those of Epicoma melanospila. However on rearing them through, the adult moths are easily distinguished.

The species occurs in