This page contains information about Painted Pine Moths that we found in
the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known as White spotted Tussock Moths.
- Wingspan 50mm
- The Painted Pine Moth caterpillars have the typical Tussock Moth
Caterpillar look. Its head is
bright red in colour. They are hairy, with four distinct
tussocks of hair on their back make them look like a toothbrush. The hair can cause
irritation if contact. They are common in Brisbane. They are usually found feeding on leaves during the day.
- They feed on different type of trees including gum, wattle, Mangrove, Grevillea
and as their name implies, pine. The caterpillars pupate in a woven cocoon under bark or foliage.
The pupa covered with larval hairs which can cause problems if touched, or if they are released to blow
- Making woven cocoon
- As their common name imply, they feed on pine tree. Although they do not
make big damage on the pine tree, their hairs course urticaria to the pine
industry operators. They are considered as pest to the pine industry.
- From the reference information, Painted Pine Moth caterpillars originally
feed on Wattle Acacia and most other garden plants. They also
have the common name Painted Acacia Moth.
The Winged Male
- We found a Painted Pine Moth Caterpillar feeding on Camellia flower on
late Spring 2002.
- We took the caterpillar home
to see how it would look like when it became a moth. We brought along with extra
Camellia flowers and leaves as the caterpillar's food. To keep the flowers fresh, we put them in our refrigerator.
- We put the caterpillar in a jar with those flowers and leaves. The jar was covered by a cloth and tighten by rubber bend. We
cleaned the jar everyday. We put some more flowers and leaves in the jar everyday.
We found that the caterpillar feed only on the Camellia flowers and not on the
- Caterpillar found on Camellia flowers
Male, wingspan 30mm
When we found the caterpillar, it was 20mm in length. After a few days, the caterpillars moulted.
It looked the same except larger, it became 30mm in length. After another week. it
pupated in a woven cocoon.
The pupa was covered with some hairs of the
caterpillar. These hairs may cause
irritation if contact, or if they were released to blow
we handled it very carefully. After the caterpillar became a pupa, we did not
need to clean the jar.
After another two weeks, it became a moth. The moths
was medium in size with hairy body. It held their board wings like roots over their abdomen at rest.
There were the white and brown blue patterns on its wings. It had the typical
Tussock Moth male antenna. This moth is active at night, so we opened the jar and
put it in our backyard at night.
To raise caterpillars is fun, especially if we find an unknown caterpillar.
It is easily too. We have raised some caterpillars such as the Wanderer, the
Crow , the Orchard Butterflies and the
Common Anthelid Moths. You may like to raise one
too. Try it yourself next time when you find a caterpillar. Email me if you successfully raise one or if you find any problem.
The Wingless Female
On 2004 late summer, we found another caterpillar on Black Wattle Acacia. The
caterpillar was the same as the caterpillar above but larger in
- Length 35mm
Start making cocoon
- The caterpillar was covered
with dense golden yellow hairs. It had a pair of long black tufts of
hairs at the head which pointed forwards like horns. Like most tussock moth
caterpillar, it had four tufts of creamy yellow hairs on the back, just like
tufts of bristles in a toothbrush. On both sides near the first two tufts,
there were two tufts of silver white hairs. It also had a tuft of creamy yellow
hairs on the back near the end of the abdomen.
- Pupa in
Wingless female, body length 20mm
- The caterpillar moved slowly and fed on the Black Wattle leaves. Two days
later, under one of the wattle leaf, it found a suitable place to make its
cocoon. It first used silk to curve the leaf to make a good cover. Then it used
more silks to make the loosely-spun cocoon. It
used most of its hairs to cover its cocoon. We knew these hairs can cause urticaria
if touched, or if they were released to blow about. So we handled the
cocoon with extra care.
- About 10 days later, to our surprise (we did not know the female in this
wingless), a small fellow came out from the
cocoon. It did not look like a moth. It was creamy white in colour, look like a
short sausage covered with dense hairs. Examined it more carefully, we realized
that it was a wingless moth. We then checked the reference books and found that
the Painted Pine Moth females are wingless.
- Actually the 'wingless' Painted Pine Moth females do have wings. Check
carefully at the above pictures, we can cee the tiny front wing and hind
Eggs and 1st instars
- Eggs, 1.5mm
Caterpillars just hatched, length 4mm
- Something more interesting were still to happen. The female Painted Pine
Moth just stayed with its cocoon and did nothing. Three or four days after it
came out from cocoon, it laid eggs on the cocoon. Those eggs covered most of
the cocoon and then it dropped on to the ground and laid some more eggs there. The
eggs were white in colour. Total number of eggs estimated about three hundreds.
- Because we thought the wingless moth will
not fly away, we did not cover the jar. We did not think the female moth had chance to mate and
so the eggs were unfertilized. We did not expect caterpillars would hatch from
- To our big surprise, three days later, caterpillars came out from those
eggs!! In fact, all those eggs turned into caterpillars, included those on the
- The young caterpillars were dark brown in colour with some segments in
creamy white. They had long hairy covered their body. Since their females are
wingless, it is believed that this species are distributed by the wind-borne of
those young long hair caterpillars. (Note: later we found on some reference
that some of their females are fully winged.)
Male Caterpillar on Acacia
- Few weeks later after we found the larger female
caterpillar, we found a smaller caterpillar and it made its cocoon when its
length was 30mm. We knew it would be a male Painted Pine Moth moth.
- Length 20mm
- Few days later it spun the cocoon in exactly the same style except smaller in size.
- 1. Orgyia
Walker, 1855 - Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley, 2008.
- 2. Moths
of Australia - I. F. B. Common, Melbourne University Press,
1990, p428, fig43.7, plate30.10, plate30.10,11.
- 3. Moths
of Australia - Bernard D'Abrera, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1974,
- 4. Northern
Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009.
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