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Chlenias auctaria - caterpillar

Chlenias auctaria


About 35mm long this very brightly coloured caterpillar was apparently feeding on Exocarpos cupressiformis - 'Cherry Ballart' Deep red legs, turquiose, yellow, black and white body, turquoise head and tail.


Within a nature reserve incorporating stringybark, acacias, pomaderris, pittosporum, assorted woody shrubs and grasses.


" This species has been recorded as feeding on over 17 species of unrelated plants, including:
Boneseed ( Chrysanthemoides monilifera, ASTERACEAE )
Wattles ( Acacia, MIMOSACEAE )
Needlewood ( Hakea, PROTEACEAE )
Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE )
and has also adapted to feeding on the introduced
Monterey Pine ( Pinus radiata, PINACEAE )
to the point where it is a pest in pine plantations.
The species has been studied to discover how and why it is so polyphagus. It was found that the mean pupal size of was significantly reduced by feeding on Pinus radiata (a non-native plant host) compared to two native host plants (Eucalyptus obliqua and Acacia mearnsii). The main reason for this seemed to be the higher ratio of dry weight to wet weight of plant material in the native plants compared to the introduced plant species; the larvae on Pinus radiata simply could not get enough nutrient to catch up to those feeding on the native plant species. So given that it develops poorly on such plants, why does it continue to use them for food? " - Don Herbison Evans
So we can now add Exocarpos cupressiformis to that list.
..thanks bayucca for confirming ID

1 Species ID Suggestions

bayucca 10 years ago
Pine Looper Caterpillar
Chlenias auctaria Chlenias auctaria

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Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

Thanks Martin - yes polyphagy was in the notes.

MartinL 10 years ago

The babies do have big heads don't they. I understand that they are native but polyphagus, they do very well on introduced pine and many other species.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

..because you just made that up.. LOL!!
..and we wouldn't want to confuse it with Bupalus piniaria, Caripeta piniata, Caripeta angustiorata or any of those other northerners. I'm sure it only ate the introduced pines when it got bored.
(Leuba returns greetings :-)

bayucca 10 years ago

Why not adding Pine Looper Caterpillar...? Warm greetings to Leuba!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

Thanks bayucca - yes Leuba and I thought that one is it but were searching for proof of food this source. No record of them on Exocarpos sp. unfortunately. I think we'll just add one in this case. It wasn't a 'one off' either - there were dozens of them stuffing their faces on many different trees.

bayucca 10 years ago

Geometridae, Ennominae, Nacophorini, Chlenias auctaria. Please, verify.

Mark Ridgway
Spotted by
Mark Ridgway

Victoria, Australia

Spotted on Oct 12, 2013
Submitted on Oct 12, 2013

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