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Common Wasp Moth
Hourglass Wasp Moth
Orange Headed Wasp Moth
Orange Shoulder Wasp Moth
White Antenna Wasp Moth
Black Thorax Wasp Moth 
Two-spots Tiger Moth
Yellow Tiger Moth
Grey Tiger Moth 
Unknown Tiger Moth Caterpillars


Wasp Moths, Spotted Tiger Moths - Subfamily Ctenuchinae

This page contains pictures and information about Wasp Moths and Spotted Tiger Moth of subfamily Ctenuchinae that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
This Wasp Moth is trying very hard to convince us that we are dealing with a wasp.
The caterpillars in Ctenuchinae are usually covered with uniform dark hairs. Most of them are active during the day. They may look like those caterpillars in family Anthelidae but the hairs are shorter and with no pattern on the head. They pupate in cocoon made of silk and their hairs. Caterpillars may be find on ground, under logs and other debris. They feed on fallen leaves and other dead plant materials.
Adults in Ctenuchinae are small to medium in size. Their abdomen are usually banded with black and orange colours, mimicking wasp. This is the warning colours of they are poisonous or distasteful if eaten. Most of them looked very similar. It is believed that they mimic each other and form a mimicry complex. Their fore-wings are relatively long and narrow with small round hindwings. Their wings are usually black in colour with orange or semitransparent spot patterns. They usually have their wings held out and flat when rest. They are active during the day.  
We noticed that those species in this sub-family spend quite a long time in mating. Most of their pictures, from reference books or other web sites, show they are mating. This is not the case for other moth species.
In Brisbane we found a number of species in genus Amata. All of them have the very similar wing patterns. We believed they formed the Mullerian mimicry complex.   

Common Wasp Moth
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Eressa angustipenna, wingspan 30mm
This moth is common in Brisbane bushes. We easily find them resting or flying openly in the Eucalyptus forest during the warm seasons. Its wings are black with translucent yellow-orange spots. It has black and orange-yellow bands on its abdomen. There is the orange band between its black head and black hairy thorax. Its forewings are long and a bit narrow. Its hind wings are relatively small. For more pictures and information please click on here.
Unknown Wasp Moth
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Eressa sp. wingspan 30mm
We found this Wasp Moth under loose bark. It was in Carbrook Wetland on Nov 2009. This may be a wear-off Eressa angustipenna (species above). 
Hourglass Wasp Moth
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Eressa geographica, body length 20mm
We found the above mating couple in Karawatha Forest in late summer. We also found them near Stockyard Creek. This moth look similar to the Wasp Moths (above). We distinguished them by the orange-yellow hourglass patterns on thorax. This moth is quite common in Brisbane bushes. More information and pictures please visit this page.

Orange-headed Wasp Moth
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Amata annulata, wingspan 30mm
This moth has the black hairy thorax, orange head with black eyes. Its wings are black with translucent yellow-orange spots. It has black and orange-yellow bands on its body. The Caterpillar is black with brown hairs. Please also check this page for more information.
Orange Shoulder Wasp Moth
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Amata humeralis, wingspan 30mm
This moth is fairy common in Brisbane bush. We sometimes find them resting or flying openly in the Eucalyptus forest. This moth has the orange hairs on the forewings base. This is why we called them Orange Shoulder Wasp Moths. More pictures and information please visit this page
White Antenna Wasp Moth
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Amata nigriceps, wingspan 30mm
This moth has the black hairy thorax, orange head with black eyes. Its wings are black with translucent yellow-orange spots. It has black and orange-yellow bands on its body. Notice its antenna have the white tip. Please also visit this page for more information. 
Black Thorax Wasp Moth
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Amata trigonophora, wingspan 30mm  
We distinguished this Black thorax Wasp Moth by the long black hairs on thorax. The whole antennae are also black in colour. This moth is not common in Brisbane bushes. Please check this page for more information.

1. CTENUCHINAE of AustraliaAustralian Caterpillars by Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley, 2007.
2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, 1926, p444 (Syntomidae).
3. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p910.
4. Moths of Australia - I. F. B. Common, Melbourne University Press, 1990, p438.
5. Moths of Victoria: part two, Tiger moths and allies Noctuoidea (A) - Peter Marriott, Entomological Society of Victoria, 2009.
6. Amata {genus} - The Barcode of Life Data System (,2011.
7. Eressa {genus} - The Barcode of Life Data System (,2011.  

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Last updated: November 06, 2011.