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CHOREUTIDAE
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ZYGAENIDAE
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LIMACODIDAE
Wattle Cup Caterpillar
Mottled Cup Moth
Black Slug Cup Moth
Four-spotted Cup Moth  
Green Slug Caterpillar  
Fern Cup Moth  
 
Unknown in this Group
 

                                               

Mottled Cup Moth - Doratifera vulnerans

Family Limacodidae 

This page contains pictures and information about Mottled Cup Moths that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.

Caterpillar 20mm
 
Mottled Cup Moth caterpillars are pale brown in colour, the bright warning colours white, pink and yellow in the middle. They show their stinging hairs when disturbed. Mottled Cup Caterpillar is also known as Chinese Junk because of their shape and their way of moving like ship at sea..
 
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Cocoon diameter 8mm
 
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Cocoons look like a wooden cup, lip opened after the adult moth emerged. Those cocoon cups are easily found on stems of gum tree, which is the footplant of the caterpillars.
 
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They feed openly on leaves during the day. They feed on gumtree leaves. 
 
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Caterpillars show their stinging hairs when disturbed. Their sting will give a painful nettle-like sting and burning feeling. 
 
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The caterpillar does not show it sting when resting and feeding, only shows it stinging hairs when disturbed. If touch, will receive painful nettle-like stings, sometimes swelling into red lumps. 
 
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Adults body length 18mm
 
At first, we had tried to raise the Cup Moth from caterpillar but without success. The caterpillar seemed not feeding when it was in the jar. It died after a few days. May be we did not find their right food plants. Later we found some Cup Moth pupa and found that they take more than four weeks in pupa stage during spring season of Brisbane. The moth was bright brown in colour, with hairy thorax.
 
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They come to light at night, especially the males. 
 

Raising Mottled Cup Caterpillars

In the next year summer, we found a batch of small Mottled Cup Caterpillars. We tried to raise them them again. We brought them home and did more carefully this time. We found those caterpillars on a young gum tree. We bring along with some leaves from the gumtree as food for the caterpillars. 
 
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Small caterpillars length 5mm                                 5 days later, length 10mm                                     10 days later, length 20mm
 
We found that the small caterpillars fed individually during the day time and stayed together after evening. They fed on new fully grown leaves on gumtree. They doubled their length within five days. When they grew to medium size, they did not stay together after evening. They looked much the same except their strings look much stronger. 
 
We put the caterpillars in a jar with a branch of leaves that we collected from the gum tree. The jar was covered by a cloth and tighten by rubber bend. We cleaned the jar everyday. We replaced a new branch of leaves in the jar every two or three days. The caterpillars ate a lot. We put the gumtree leaves in refrigerator to keep them fresh.  
 
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Making cocoon                                                     One day later                                                       
 
Two weeks later, they grew up to about 25mm length, some of them started to make their cocoon. Watch carefully at the above first picture you will see the caterpillar turned itself inside out, weaving the cocoon inside. The second picture was one day later, when the cocoon became harden. Within three days, all the caterpillars turned into cocoons.
 
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Two weeks later
 
Two weeks later, the little bright brown moths come out from their cocoons one by one. They come out during the mid-night.
 

 
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All Doratifera sp. caterpillars feed on Eucalyptus and sometimes on Lophostemon or Angophora, but this D. vulnerans are also found on Melaleuca, guava and apricot.
 
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Reference:
1. LIMACODIDAE in Australia - Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley, 2009.
2. Moths of Australia - I. F. B. Common, Melbourne University Press, 1990, p299.
3. A Guide to Australian Moths - Paul Zborowski, Ted Edwards, CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2007, p113.  
 

Up ] Wattle Cup caterpillar ] [ Mottled Cup Moth ] Black Slug Cup Moth ] Four-Spotted Cup Moth ] Green Slug Caterpillar ] Fern Cup Moth ]

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Last updated: August 13, 2011.