What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Both adults and larvae are structurally diverse and the monophyly of the family remains to be established firmly. It is possible that not only New World Dioptidae but also the Thaumetopoeidae are subsets of the Notodontidae. However, notodontid larvae are often quite characteristic and the only lepidopterans known to produce ketons.


Medium-sized to large; ocelli absent; antennae usually bipectinate in male, filiform or bipectinate in female, scale tufts often raised on scape; proboscis strong, occasionally reduced or absent; maxillary palps very small, 2-segmented; labial palps porrect, ascending; epiphysis present in male, absent in female, spurs 0-2-4 or 0-2-2; fore wing often with areole, M 2 arising midway between M 1 and M 3 , 1A+2A sometimes forming small fork; hind wing with frenulum, Sc+R 1 approximated to Rs, or Sc connected to Rs by R 1 , M 2 as in fore wing, 2 anal veins; thorax often with dorsal scale-crests, metathoracic tympanal organs with tympanum directed ventrally; male abdomen sometimes with scaled flaps on S4. Eggs hemispherical or nearly spherical, of upright type. Larva with spines, fleshy tubercles or humps, sometimes with secondary setae, prothorax sometimes with forked eversible organ beneath head producing secretions containing formic acid and ketons, anal prolegs often reduced or modified, usually with 4 pairs of ventral prolegs, crochets uniordinal in a mesoseries; external, arboreal feeders. Pupa well sclerotised, thoracic dorsum sometimes and abdomen usually with punctures, cremaster usually present; in cell in soil or tough cocoon.


The Australian fauna contains more than 30 genera. Gallaba (6 spp.), with long scale-tuft on the frons and tegulae, occurs in southern Australia. Cerura (2 spp.) is a widely distributed genus in the Old World with brightly coloured larvae with a pair of long posterior whiplash organs replacing the anal prolegs; C . australis occurs in or near rainforest from central Qld to central eastern N.S.W., with larva on Scolopia brownii . Danima banksiae occurs widely; the larvae, which feeds on Banksia and other Proteaceae, throws back its head when irritated and displays a purple, bifid, prothoracic organ. The larva of Neola semiaurata feeds on Acacia and displays a large, normally hidden eye-spot on each side of abdominal segment 8 when disturbed; it occurs from central Qld to southern N.S.W. [Kiriakoff 1968; Holloway 1983.]

Notodontidae images on Australian Moths Online

  • Larva of Neola semiaurata

  • Larva of Ochrogaster lunifer (Processionary caterpillars)

  • Orchogaster lunifer

  • Neostauropus viridissimus